Individual Mini Apple Crisps

While pumpkin recipes have been the focus of most of my recent blog posts, there is another fruit that deserves some love this time of the year… Apples. I went apple picking in early October and while I didn’t get to pick my favorite apple, Honeycrisp, I did end up with a good amount of delicious apples that I have been enjoying. As my bag of apples begins to dwindle down some of them aren’t as crisp for eating so I have finally started baking with them. So this week I will be bringing you three recipes apples related. Today’s Individual Mini Apple Crisps, an Apple Cider Doughnut Cake (which didn’t require apples, but, fresh apple cider which I picked up while apple picking) and finally an Apple Crumb Pie. This pie is perfect if you love apple pie but are a little intimidated with making and/or decorating pie crusts.

While these apple crisps are perfect to serve as a dessert if you are having people over for dinner or part of your Thanksgiving desserts (the recipe can easily be doubled or halved as I did) they are a great make ahead dessert as well. I prepped them, covered them with aluminum foil and then refrigerated them until I was ready to bake it. I didn’t change much from the recipe, well, I did make my own apple pie spice since I had the spices on hand and it was cheaper than buying it.

I began by combining the ingredients for the crust and topping (the crisp part) in one bowl. And in another bowl I combined the ingredients for the apple filling. I began assembling the crisps by pressing two tablespoons of crisp mixture into the bottom of ramekins I sprayed with cooking spray. I then evenly divided the apple filling into each of the ramekins. And finally, I sprinkled the remaining crisp mixture over the apple filling. At this point you could bake the crisps in the oven on a baking sheet or, do what I did.

I covered each of the ramekins with aluminum foil and placed them in the refrigerator until I was ready to enjoy them.

When I was, I placed the ramekin on a baking sheet and baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for 30 minutes. As a note, I prepped these on a Sunday and enjoyed my last one on a Wednesday so these will definitely keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

I then topped it with a few scoops of ice cream before digging in. If you omit the ice cream, these are pretty healthy. The crisp is made with old-fashioned oats, raw almonds and honey. While the apple filling just requires a few tablespoons of sugar. This is definitely something I will be making again. Probably next time though I won’t halve the recipe. Since I know for sure that the crisps will keep in the refrigerator for a few days I wouldn’t mind having a few more on hand for a dessert fix.

Mini Apple Crisps

Ingredients:

Crust & Topping:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice*

1 cup crush raw almonds**

1 cup old-fashioned oats

Apple Filling:

3 unpeeled medium apples, chopping into 1/2 inch pieces

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoons apple pie spice

Vanilla ice cream, optional

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray 6 ramekins with cooking spray.

In a large bowl mix together the butter, honey, vanilla extract and apple pie spice. Add in the almonds and oats and toss together until well coated. Press two tablespoons onto the bottoms of each of the prepared ramekins.

In a medium bowl combine the apples, sugar, lemon juice and apple pie spice. Toss the ingredients together well and then divide it evenly among the ramekins. Sprinkle the top of the filling with the remaining oats and almond mixture.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the apples are soft and topping is golden brown. ***

Serve warm, topped with ice cream.

*To make your own Apple Pie Spice combine 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon allspice.

**I used raw sliced almonds. I put them in a resealable bag and then rolled them with a roll pin to crush them.

***Alternatively you can cover each of the ramekins with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator to heat at a later time.

Recipe from Taste of Home

Skillet Tamale Pie

You may recall on Sunday I shared a recipe for a Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken, well, today I am sharing the recipe that I used the chicken for… A Skillet Tamale Pie. I came across this recipe when I clicked on an article about using Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix for recipes other than corn muffins. I think that Jiffy Corn Muffins is one of the first things that I baked when I was younger. It had been years since I purchased a box before I purchased the one I used in this recipe. I’ve tried making cornbread and corn muffins from scratch using cornmeal and to be honest I don’t know why. It never has the sweetness that I want and the texture is always a little off. I should just stuck with this tried and true box mix.

To make the skillet tamale I began by generously greasing a 9-inch cast iron skillet with softened butter and preheated my oven to 400 F. In a large bowl I combined 1 box of Jiffy mix with buttermilk, an egg, cream-style corn and a can of diced green beans. I stirred these ingredients together until they were just combined and then poured them into the prepared skillet and baked it for about 25 minutes, until it was set.

I removed the skillet from the oven and poked the cornbread with a fork several times. I then topped the cornbread with the cooked shredded chicken. Next I poured red chile enchilada sauce over the chicken and topped the sauce with shredded Monterey-Jack cheese. I returned the skillet to the oven and baked it for about 15 minutes, until the cheese melted.

This was so delicious and filling and something I will definitely be making again. Maybe next time though with ground beef.

 

Skillet Tamale Pie

Ingredients:

1 box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix

1/3 cup buttermilk*

1 egg

1 14.75 oz. can of cream-style corn

1 4.5 oz. can of diced green chiles

1 8 oz. can of red chile enchilada sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey-Jack cheese

 

For serving:

Crema (Sour Cream)

Cilantro

Salsa

Lime Wedges

 

*I made my own buttermilk by stirring together 1/3 cup whole milk with 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of white vinegar in a measuring cup. After letting the mixture sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature it began to curdle on the top which let me know it was ready to use.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet generously with softened butter and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the Jiffy mix, buttermilk, egg, cream-style corn and green chiles and stir together until just combined. Pour into the prepared skillet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set.

Remove the skillet from the oven and poke the cornbread with a fork several times. Top with either cooked shredded chicken or ground beef and top the meat with the enchilada sauce and then the shredded cheese.

Return the skillet to the oven and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Recipe from All Hail Jiffy Cornbread Mix

Slow Cooker Sunday: Shredded Mexican Chicken

I would like to say Slow Cooker Sunday is back, but, considering I don’t have many slow cooker recipes lined up to try I will say that it will slowing be appearing on Sunday’s. I have been focused on getting recipes together for the holidays, finishing up some craft projects, holiday crafts and a few other things. While I have been trying out new baking recipes when it comes to cooking I have been taking the easy route and making stuff that I am familiar with, can make quickly and require minimal ingredients. Today’s recipe is actually a two-parter. While you can use the chicken for this recipe to make some delicious tacos or burritos, I used it to make a Skillet Tamale Pie. That recipe will come later in the week.

To begin I placed 4 boneless chicken thighs in the insert of my slow cooker. I sprinkled about half of a 1 oz. package on taco seasoning over the chicken and then tossed the two together to coat the chicken. I then poured a 24 oz. jar of salsa over the chicken and gave everything a good stir. I covered the slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 4.5 hours.

After 4.5 hours I removed the chicken from the slow cooker and shredded it using two forks. I placed the cover back on my slow cooker so the sauce in there could remain warm. Without the cover on, slow cookers begin to lose their heat quickly.

Once shredded, I returned the chicken to the slow cooker and added in the remaining taco seasoning. I gave everything a good stir and then covered it and let it continue to cook on the low setting for an additional 30 minutes.

 

Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

Ingredients:

28 oz. boneless skinless chicken thighs (4 pieces)

1 package taco seasoning mix*

24 oz. mild salsa*

 

*I used Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning Mix

** I used Chi-Chi’s Mild Thick & Chunky Salsa

 

Directions:

Add the chicken to a 4 to 5 qt. slow cooker and toss with half of the taco seasoning mix.

Pour the salsa over the chicken and stir to combine. Cover, and cook on low setting for 4 to 4.5 hours, or until chicken is very tender.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board to shred. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker along with the remaining taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. Cover and continue to cook on the low setting for an additional 30 minutes.

Recipe from Pillsbury

Pumpkin Biscotti

I’m not really sure why I haven’t tried making biscotti before. I have read some other bloggers failed attempts at baking them. Leaving them with a love/hate relationship for the crispy cookie. My love/hate relationship is the fact that while they are delicious they are sometimes too crunchy. And yes, I know biscotti is meant to be enjoyed by dipping it into a nice hot beverage to combat that issue, but, I am just not a fan of a possible mushy cookie. I was planning making biscotti for the first time as part of this year’s Cookie Palooza after coming across a recipe for a pistachio cranberry one during my magazine cleanout I mentioned a few posts back – and I very well may still do so – but, I am thinking Almond Biscotti now. So, how did I deviate from my original biscotti plan? I came across a pumpkin version on Instagram and around the same time I was looking for pumpkin treats to bake for a friend’s birthday. She loves pumpkin and biscotti so it was a win win situation all around to try out the recipe.

To make the dough, I began by beating softened butter, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder together. Per the recipe the mixture was supposed to get creamy. It didn’t happen though. Not sure if it was because I was using my hand mixer vs. my stand mixer, but, the ingredients did combine just never into a creamy consistency. Next I added in an egg and pumpkin puree. At this point my mixture did become creamy. And finally I added in flour at low speed. The resulting dough was very sticky.

I transferred the dough to a baking sheet I lined with parchment paper. And yes, I had used that parchment paper before. I was baking chocolate chip cookies prior to making the biscotti. I simply flipped the parchment paper over and used the other side for the biscotti. And in case you are wondering or weren’t aware, it’s perfectly safe to use parchment paper more than once. Just make sure if you are gifting the cookies to anyone they don’t have any allergies that could be affected by a different batch of cookies you made. Since the dough was sticky I did my best to form it into two rectangles. The recipe said 10 x 2 1/2, I ended up with 9 x 2 1/2. I did my best to get it to 10 inches, but, it wasn’t happening.

Next, I smoothed both rectangles with a small offset spatula that I dipped in water. I then sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar and lightly pressed the cinnamon sugar into the dough.

Then it was time for the first bake. I baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for 25 minutes. I then removed the pan from the oven, lowered the temperature of the oven to 325 F and waited 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes I transferred one of the logs to a cutting board and using a large serrated knife sliced it into 1/2 inch sliced. I measured the first one and eyeballed the remaining ones.

I repeated this with the second long and then placed all of the cut biscotti on edge back on the baking sheet and returned it to the oven for about 40 minutes. At the end of the bake time I checked on the biscotti and they were beginning to brown around the edges and were just a tad soft in the center, as per the recipe they should be. So, I turned the oven off and opened the oven door a few inches so they could cool inside the oven.

And once cool I had a delicious batch of Pumpkin Biscotti. And I must mention that my house smelled delicious while baking these. That’s enough of a reason to bake up a batch.

 

Pumpkin Biscotti

  • Servings: approximately 30 pieces
  • Print

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon sugar for topping (optional)

 

Directions:

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

In a large bowl beat the softened butter, sugar, spices, baking powder and salt on medium speed until the mixture is combined. Add in the egg and pumpkin puree and continue beating until the mixture is smooth. On low speed add in the flour and continue mixing until smooth. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet and divide in half. Shape it into two 10” x 2 1/2” rectangles. Using a wet offset spatula smooth the top and sides of the rectangles.

Sprinkle the top of both with cinnamon sugar and lightly press it into the dough.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.

Wait 5 minutes then transfer one of the logs to a cutting board and using a large serrated knife slice the log crosswise into 1/2” slices. Be sure to cut the biscotti straight up and down so that they are cut evenly. If you cut unevenly the biscotti may topple over during the second bake. Do the same with the second log.

Place the biscotti on edge back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven for an additional 40 to 45 minutes. Until the biscotti begins to brown around the edges and still a bit soft in the middle. Turn the oven off, open the door a few inches and let the biscotti cool completely in the oven.

Once cool, remove and store in an airtight container.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Mummy Cupcakes

Halloween is just around the corner. Although, if you go to some stores it may look as though Halloween & Thanksgiving have already passed as they are stocking their shelves with Christmas items already. It’s only a matter of time before “Jingle Bells” and other familiar Christmas tunes begin to fill our ears during our shopping trips. But for today, let’s just stick with Halloween. You may recall that when I posted about the NY Knicks cake I made I mentioned making some cupcakes along with the cake to decorate with a Halloween theme. Well, that theme was Mummy Cupcakes. I got the idea for these cupcakes from the Mummy Cake I made last year for Halloween. Now, I mentioned last year that making the cake was super easy, so, you can only imagine how much easier it is to make the cupcake version. I

These cupcakes are very versatile. Meaning you can use any flavor for the base. I opted with yellow cake since I was going to have extra batter from the cake I was making. And, if baking from scratch is not your thing you can totally use a box cake mix (as I did) and store bought frosting to make them. The two specialty items you may need is an Ateco #45 decorating tip and piping bags. Although, you could skip the decorating tip and cut a small hole at the end of a piping bag on an angle. I haven’t tried this so I am not 100% sure how it will work out though.

So, once my cupcakes were cool I fitted a 12-inch piping bag with the Ateco tip and then filled it with vanilla frosting. And then I simply piped flat stripes of frosting across the top of each of the cupcakes. Once the tops were covered with those stripes I added a few extra one’s going on an angle.

Next I tinted a small amount of frosting black and red to make the eyes of the mummy. First, I piped two red dots on each of the cupcakes and then I piped two black dots in the center of those red ones.

 

And just like that I had Mummy cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Pudding Cake

Monday has become my day for sharing new pumpkin recipes with you. That’s not a bad way to kick off the week if you ask me. Today’s recipe is a Pumpkin Cinnamon Pudding Cake. It’s a nice light dessert that creates its own sauce for drizzling while baking. I found the recipe during a recent cleaning/organizing frenzy. I went through a bunch of holiday baking magazines I had sitting on a bookshelf for quite some time (some for almost 10 years.) I had flagged recipes in each of them and then never made them. I found quite a few pumpkin recipes, some cookie recipes, and some other goodies that I am hoping to try out sooner rather than later.

You may be wondering how exactly this cake created its own sauce. Well, after making the batter for the cake I spread it into an 8x8x2-inch baking pan I sprayed with baking spray and then sprinkled the top with brown sugar and cinnamon. Next, I poured a mixture of boiling water and butter over the top of the cake prior to baking. While baking the water combines with the sugar and cinnamon to create a sauce under the cake. You may be tempted to reduce the amount of brown sugar you sprinkle over the cake thinking a cup is too much (I did!), but, the end result isn’t overly-sweet. Since the cake itself isn’t that sweet it offers a perfect balance for the cake.

After baking the cake in a 350 F preheated oven for about 35 minutes I let the cake cool on a wire rack before enjoying.

And the best way to enjoy this cake is warm with the sauce drizzled on top with a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream on the side. I made the mistake of letting the cake cool for too long before enjoying a piece so I placed it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm it up and then added my ice cream.

If you are really in a pumpkin mood you could also make my No Churn Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream from last week to go along with this cake. The best part, you can try both recipes with just 1 can of pumpkin puree.

 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Pudding Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups light brown sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray and 8x8x2-inch square pan with baking spray.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the 1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cup of the brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, pumpkin puree and vanilla and continue beating until the mixture become light and fluffy again. Add the flour and stir with a spoon until just combined. Transfer the mixture to prepared pan and spread it into an even layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the batter and then sprinkle the remaining cinnamon over the sugar.

In a measuring cup combine the boiling water with the 2 tablespoons of butter and stir until the butter is melted. Pour this over the batter in the pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes and then spoon the cake into a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle the syrup from the pan over it.

Recipe from Mixing Bowl Magazine from Fall/Winter 2010

New York Knicks Themed Cake

I recently got a request for a basketball themed birthday cake, specifically a New York Knicks themed one. The recipient sent me two pictures of what they wanted… One was simply a round cake with the Knicks logo on top and the other was a jersey themed cake. I opted to go with the latter.

At first I thought I would have to carve the cake on the sides and on the top to replicate the armholes and neck hole, but, after going through some pics on Pinterest and envisioning the cake in my head I realized I wouldn’t have to. Which was a good thing, I have never carved a cake before and I don’t think the first time I attempt it should be for someone’s birthday cake.

To make things simple I opted to use a box cake mix for the cake. While the directions on the box said one would suffice to make a 9×13-inch sheet cake I wanted to be sure the cake would have some height to it so I opted to use one and a half boxes of mix. I thought using two full boxes would be too much and the cake might overflow while baking and I also had a Halloween theme I wanted to try with the cupcakes – that’s coming in a later post. I prepped the cake mixes per the directions in two separate bowls and then with one I filled the cavities of a 12-cup muffin tin with a 1/4 cup of batter in each. I then poured the remaining batter into the bowl with the full amount and folded the two together before pouring it into a 9×13-inch pan I sprayed with baking spray. Once the cake was done I let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely . Once it was cool I wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight.

And while I used a box cake mix for the cake, I opted to make the frosting from scratch. I made a simple vanilla frosting that I planned to use for both the cake and cupcakes. After torting the cake, I placed the cut side down on a cake board and spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides. Then it was time to decorate. I opted to decorate the cake as the home jersey for the Knicks in white. Initially I was thinking of decorating it by using fondant paneling as I did with the YouTube themed cake I made earlier this year. And I even started doing so by cutting strips of white fondant and placing them on the sides of the cake. But, when it came to placing the top piece on I decided to cut it a little longer and wider than what I needed. And I am actually happy I did so. When you looked at the cake along the sides it almost looked like the jersey was draped and it gave the cake nice round edge.

After getting the white fondant done it was time to decorate with the blue and orange fondant to create the armholes and neck hole. At one point I was thinking of doing this part with frosting, but, I am happy I nixed that idea. The fondant gave it a much cleaner look and it was easier to correct any mistakes in measuring and placing. I rolled the fondant into strips and then cut them to form the curves. I let the pieces sit on the cake for a few minutes so they could take on curved shape while drying out a little to make it easier to adhere them to the cake with a dab of water. Next, I added the last name, which was a little tricky since I had limited space for all of the letters, but, I was able to make it work. At this point I took a break from decorating and placed the cake in the refrigerator to continue working on it the next day.

To create the numbers for the cake I purchased Wilton fondant molds. At first I had no clue how to use them. I knew I couldn’t use them as regular cookie cutters but I tried to anyway and it was a fail. I had a feeling that I would have to get the fondant into the crevice and then freeze it, but, just to be sure I did a quick Google search and my suspicions were correct. So, I pressed small amounts of fondant into the crevices and then placed the molds in the freezer for about a half hour. Once the fondant had frozen it was easy to remove it from the molds and I had a perfect 4 and 0.

Now, to create the basketball on the cake I got pretty creative. I could have just done it with a mound of frosting, or shaped one of the cupcakes I made, but, while at the craft store picking up supplies for the cake I though why not cut a Styrofoam ball in half to create the perfect round shape. I was pretty sure I had Styrofoam balls at home from other craft projects, but, I wandered over to the aisle anyway and found something even better, a half round ball Styrofoam that I wouldn’t have to cut.

I began decorating it by creating the lines on the basketball. I tinted chocolate frosting with black food coloring (it’s much quicker and easier than using vanilla frosting) and simply piped the lines onto the Styrofoam. Next, I tinted about a cup of vanilla frosting with copper gel food coloring and using a small star tip I filled in the Styrofoam ball between the black lines with small stars. I decorated it on wax paper and then placed it in the fridge for an hour or so so the frosting could firm up before transferring it onto the cake.

So, I had the numbers on the cake and the basketball, but, I felt like it needed something more..

To finish the cake I added the New York Knicks logo to the top. I could have been super creative and made it myself using fondant, but, I made it myself by printing it off the internet and then cutting it out. I definitely think that was the finishing piece the cake needed.

Everyone loved it and can I just say, there I something that is so delicious and comforting about a simple yellow cake.