Fall Food Fiesta Episode 3

I think this will be the last in this fall food series…sigh. Although I haven’t completely resigned myself to starting to cook winter type foods just yet. It feels more like I’m simply refusing to give up apples than anything else lol. Oh well. YOLO. (ugh…I’m THAT girl…)

Basically I’m just obsessed with apples…

In this post I’m sharing two gems with you that I’ve recently discovered…a dinner AND a desert. Boom.

The first I’m going to share with you is somewhat similar to this recipe that I made last year, which I really didn’t care for. So I tried again. Its another attempt at Mac & Cheese with Caramelized Onions, Apple, and Bacon. So many things that I love…apples, cheese, caramelized onions, bacon…This time its all arranged in a way thats more delicious.

I won’t take too much time explaining how to make this recipe because I’ve done it a few times before. So I’ll just explain how to make it different from plain caramelized onion mac and cheese.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

To make this you basically just add the bacon and apples to the recipe I linked to above. It’s not difficult. It tasted good. My one note on it was that I used Maple Bacon…which in hind sight was a little off…I think that regular bacon would work best…or maybe smoked.

I also tried my first ever crockpot desert…Crockpot Apple Crisp. Because seriously…how can you not, right? It’s actually really easy to put together. Here’s the biz you’ll need:

  • ~5 granny  apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c butter
Apples on apples...

Apples on apples…Put your peeled and sliced apples in your crockpot and coat with lemon juice.

steps 2 and 3

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, oatmeal). Then cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or some forks. Then top the apples with your crumb mixture.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

This recipe will make your house smell AMAZING. A substitution I made was to use about half the oatmeal and use cereal for the other half (Special K Vanilla Almond to be specific, but anything corn flake-like will do). I mixed the crumbs into the apples rather than let it just sit on top so it did make the consistency a little different (not much of a crunchy top) but it still tasted good. You can also add pecans like the original recipe calls for.

When I make this recipe again I will consider using one of those crockpot liners because this was a little bit of a pain to clean up…worth it…but still work.

FUN ACTIVITY ALERT: My lady pals and I had a fun adventure a couple weekends ago so I figured I’d share it. We went to our first ever Blacklight 5K. It was SO FUN. It’s basically the Color Run except its a night and the colors glow under blacklight. It was most definitely NOT 5K…I’d guess it was maybe like 1.5 miles and in terms of logistics it was a bit of a shit show but it was still super fun to walk (running for fun is not my jam) and there was a big dance party at the end and they were throwing tons of color into the crowd.

The Before and After shot

The Before and After shot

I think I may have gotten some color on me....

I think I may have gotten some color on me….

 

What fall foods will you miss most?

 

Fall Food Fiesta Episode 2

So there are just so many awesome things you can make in the fall that just taste so much better for the simple fact that it IS fall. I’ve been a major slacker at not putting these next few dishes up here earlier. Sorry. For those of you in the Northeast with me you are understanding that fall is pretty much over at this point. BUT you can totally fight this turn in the weather in the kitchen to squeeze in a few more weeks of fall.

I actually made this dish about a month ago with a pal of mine and was really happy with it. It’s a pork dish (sorry Jewish friends) which made me a little hesitant because I’m not great with pork, but it was awesome. I made an awesome fall pork dish last year too, check it out! This dish is creatively titled Pork Chops with Apples and Onions…clearly they broke out the big ones with that one.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-4 pork chops
-2-3 apples (cored and sliced)
-1 cup chicken broth, beer, white wine, or cider (I used chicken broth)
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
– 2 Tbs butter
-1 onion, sliced
-salt, pepper, and cinnamon/all spice

Pork Chops over Mashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Pork Chops over Mashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Trim your pork chops of the extra fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet and add the olive oil. Place the chops in the hot pan and don’t touch them for 3-5 mins (so that you’ll get that great sear). Flip them and do the same with the other side. Remove from pan after around 10 mins and put on a plate (but you’re not done with them yet).

Turn the heat down to medium. Add your butter to the pan, then add the onions and apples. Add the cinnamon/all spice and saute until the apples are soft and the onions are a bit caramelized (~8 mins). Stir in the broth (or whatever broth you choose) and let it reduce a bit (so its gravy-esque). Put your chops back in the pan.

Cook the chops for another 15ish minutes, turning them over half way through and covering them up with you onion/apple biz. Serve over rice or mashed taters.

YUM. Mashed taters, pork, apples, onions...Best.

YUM. Mashed taters, pork, apples, onions…Best.

This is a great fall meal…it has the seasonal flavors I love and it hearty. The one thing that made a huge difference though was READING THE COMMENTS. I cannot stress how important it can be to read the comments for recipes you find online. In this case almost every single comment mentioned that it was lacking something (which is why I added the cinnamon) and that there were some logistical steps missing (like turning the heat down after searing the meat, and giving the apple mixture time to reduce after adding the broth).

Overall a solid meal.

In other news, I did other fall things too 🙂 I carved a bitchin’ pumpkin with the ladies and I stepped up my halloween costume effort this year (youtube tutorials for the win) lol. I got these sick vampire teeth that mold to you teeth so you can talk relatively normal and they look freakishly real. Check out the pics below:

Party Pre-Gaming like champs

Party Pre-Gaming like champs

Obvi we're on the couch taking selfies....just a vamp and lumberjack. NBD

Obvi we’re on the couch taking selfies….just a vamp and lumberjack. NBD

I guess is Jack the Pumpkin King?

I guess its Jack the Pumpkin King?

I hope everyone had a fun Halloween! Feel free to share your Halloween costume in the comments 🙂

 

Fall Food Fiesta Episode 1

You know…I tried for like 5 minutes just now to come up with something clever to call the next few posts….I got nothin’. So I settled for some basic alliteration.

The thing is, I love fall. Its basically my fave season. The colors, the temperature (my ideal), the smells, and obvi the foods. Tis the season of PUMPKIN…and squash, and apples, and cinnamon. There really isn’t any other time of year where we go as nuts over these guys as RIGHT NOW. Anyone within a 2 mile radius of a Starbucks knows all about the pumpkin craze (cough…return of the pumpkin spice latte…cough cough).

So I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve cooked up this autumn.

First in this fall fiesta series comes Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Browned Butter Sage Sauce.

I have wanted to make ravioli for a while now, but I got a pretty severe case of the lazies.  And I’m not talking about getting like for serious-serious about this…I’m talking about using wonton wrappers as the pasta substitute. Pinterest paints a pretty detailed road map on just how to do it.

You can pick up wonton wrappers pretty cheap at just about any grocery store (HINT: they are in the produce section and cost under $5).

Cook the squash, add the spices and puree.

Cook the squash, add the spices and puree.

I didn’t follow a set recipe but here’s what I used:

-1 mediumish butternut squash
-Cinnamon and all spice
-~1/4 c. butter
-1/2 parmesan cheese
-1 package wonton wrappers

To start your cook your squash. Add spices, cheese, and butter and blend until smooth.

Add the dollop of squash

Add the dollop of squash

Then its time to assemble your raviolis. Put a dollop of your squash mixture in the center of on wonton wrapper. Then, using your finger or a pastry brush, wet the edges with water and seal with another wrapper. Pinch the edges all the way closed. Continue until all the squash and wontons are gone.

Add the top and seal it up

Add the top and seal it up

Then boil your pasta water and cook the raviolis. They stick together a bit so you will likely have to cook a few at a time. They are done when they float to the top.

Cook'em up

Cook’em up

I messed the sauce up when I made it. I didn’t use fresh sage, or measure so I used too much. I did however brown the butter like a boss.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli

This is something I will definitely attempt again now that I know more about it. I kept my cooked raviolis in my strainer which caused them to stick together and also left little circle indents on them (as you can see in the photos). But they’re just so easy to make! You can fill them with anything…I can’t wait to whip up some kind of goat cheese raviolis.

On an unrelated note. I recently took an awesome trip to Colorado with my lady friends. We had the best time at C’s house chilling with the fam, eating amazing food, and super fun activities (tour of the Celestial Seasonings Factory, hiking, gun shootin’). C’s mom made us amazing pancakes for breakfast and a tasty lasagna. And her awesome sis and bro-in-law set up a gun range in the backyard for us to try to shoot a few different guns. He even generously let us break in his new toy–the moving target…I totally hit like 5 of them and it was totally awesome. Here are some photos to commemorate the trip.

Celestial Seasonings Tour...sexy hair nets

Celestial Seasonings Tour…sexy hair nets

Hiking around

Hiking around

Shootin' guns like a boss...note the missing nubs from where I blew them away :)

Shootin’ guns like a boss…note the missing nubs from where I blew them away 🙂

The ladies posing with some assault weapons...NBD

The ladies posing with some assault weapons…NBD

The Story of How I Kicked 2012’s A**

Well…we’re a solid 2 days into 2013 now. So far so good I’d say. And with a new year comes the inevitable blitzkrieg of resolutions (I mean seriously, have you read Facebook lately?). But this isn’t really one of those things. Last year I made a resolution to actively try more things/new experiences. And I thought now would be a good time to share with you how I totally crushed it.

I’m going to give you all a little breakdown of some of the things I tried this past year.

January: Joined the gym; started personal training; started a BLOG! (yup…my baby’s a year old!) Accepted a salary position at my job.

February: Took the Foreign Service Exam (sadly didn’t pass…sigh); actively participated in karaoke; Joined the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus; Went to the trampoline park!

The ladies and I hit up the trampoline park and spent an evening bouncing around.

The ladies and I hit up the trampoline park and spent an evening bouncing around.

March: Went to Chicago; signed up for online dating (yikes); went on the first date with my boyfriend.

The ladies and I at the Bean!

The ladies and I at the Bean!

the couple

April: Went to Gotye show; tried Paint Nite for the first time; went to a High School party with my bestie in our mid-20s.

 

Gotye show 1 of 2 this year. This time at the House of Blues.

Gotye show 1 of 2 this year. This time at the House of Blues. Look at how close we were!

First Paint Nite experience!

First Paint Nite experience!

May: Went to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s show; went to Feist show; tried a scorpion bowl; date night at Top of the Hub

Awesome Feist show at the House of Blues!

Awesome Feist show at the House of Blues!

Yup…there he is…standing right in front of me!

June: Visited Indiana and road tripped though Ohio for my friend E’s amazing wedding!! Was a date at a NJ wedding; participated in a Young Professionals Day of Service with the MA Women’s Political Caucus; saw Hello Dolly with my mom and sis!

the BEAUTIFUL couple!

the BEAUTIFUL couple!

Hello Dolly!

July: Watched my first UFC fight night; went kayaking; saw the Totem Cirque du’Soleil show; went to Rufus Wainwright and Ingrid Michaelson show!

IMG_0979

Kayaking like a champ

August: Went swimming in an indoor/outdoor salt water pool; had a lady boating adventure in New Hampshire

IMG_1106

The view of the lake from the boat

That time we played ladder ball and pretended to be Olympic commentators lol

That time we played ladder ball and pretended to be Olympic commentators lol

September: Went paddle boarding on the Cape; jumped off the boardwalk (so scary lol); white water rafting in Maine; Pentatonix show; had High Tea; went to Phantom Gourmet Food Phest; saw Gotye again at BofA Pavillion.

Going through the rapids!

Going through the rapids!

some singing action

some singing action

Mom, Z and the sis at Phantom Phest!

Mom, Z and the sis at Phantom Phest!

October: Pottery painting; went to a political rally and met Elizabeth Warren!; The Royal Concept Show; Halloween Scavenger Hunt in Salem; Haunted Corn Maze!

I painted the crap outta this tea pot!

I painted the crap outta this tea pot!

Oh you know...that time M and I met Elizabeth Warren

Oh you know…that time M and I met Elizabeth Warren

The time I the haunted corn maze scared me half to death

The time I the haunted corn maze scared me half to death

The Royal Concept and Frank + Derol were AMAZING

The Royal Concept and Frank + Derol were AMAZING

November: wine tasting and outdoor concert at Nashoba Valley Winery; saw the new version of The Nutcracker; took a gun shooting lesson; took a trip to Philly.

yummy wines on the grass at Nashoba Valley

yummy wines on the grass at Nashoba Valley

watch out...cause this girl can shoot.

watch out…cause this girl can shoot.

Philly Cheesesteaks in Philly!

Philly Cheesesteaks in Philly!

December: Attended a video game tournament; saw Seussical the Musical; saw The Slutcracker; hosted my first dinner party!

Local theater production of Seussical the Musical

Local theater production of Seussical the Musical

If you haven't seen this yet...go see it next year ;)

If you haven’t seen this yet…go see it next year 😉

Got to use my punch bowl at my ladies night party!

Got to use my punch bowl at my ladies night party!

Overall, I got to do some really fun things in 2012. I have loved keeping this blog and am so excited that more people are starting to read and follow it. I also did some awesome crafts and made some great treats but since they’re already on the blog I left those out.

I wanted to thank everyone who takes to the time to check out my ramblings and kitchen shenanigans; you helped make my year extra special!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s and are planning some epic adventures for the year to come!

Hearty Beef Stew to Warm Your Belly

Sandy oh Sandy. As I’m writing this the lightening is flashing and the thunder is booming outside my apartment. We were hit (more like open palmed slapped…half-heartedly) by Hurricane Sandy yesterday, and I figure this is some sort of aftershock-esque weather. I only had to work a half day at work because the T shut down at 2. But to be honest I was radiating with annoyance at having to go into work at all…there’s nothing I love better than a stormy day in my sweat pants. But whatever right? There are people with ACTUAL  problems resulting from Sandy so I’ll stop being a jerk.

this poor guy seems to be the only casualty on my street!

Anyways…I’ve been meaning to post this for like 2 weeks. So I’m sharing it with you now. A few weeks ago I busted out the ‘ole crockpot and whipped up some Beef Stew. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts I’m really not a soup person; it’s just not my jam generally. But I wanted to branch out and give it a go…partly because the weather turned arctic…remember that week? brrrrrr!

It’s actually really easy to put together and you don’t need any other pots or anything…it’s mostly just layering. Here’s how the magic happens: (recipe from Get Crocked)

Hearty Beef Stew

  • 2 lbs. stew beef
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 4 lg. carrots, peeled & sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 lg. potatoes, peeled & chopped into chunks
  • 1 c. condensed beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce
  • 1 lg. onion, sliced
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
  1. Layer potatoes on the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Next, layer carrots on top of potatoes.
  3. Place meat on top of carrots.
  4. Sprinkle meat with soy sauce, salt, paprika, pepper & flour.
  5. Layer chopped onions evenly on top of sauce/seasonings.
  6. Combine beef broth & tomato sauce and pour over everything in the crock pot.
  7. Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hrs. (or high 4 – 5 hrs. if pressed for time

    Now I changed it up a bit to suit my tastes…I added canned corn and a sweet potato as well.

This is an easy recipe for putting the freezer for later cooking, or just feeding yourself slash your family. I think it’s a good one to keep in your arsenal for this winter!

Suck it Betty Crocker…I Make My Cake from Scratch

okay…so the title of this blog is only partly true. I frequently make cakes from a box out of laziness and poverty. But when I DO make a cake from scratch BOOM. It’s all “Betty Who?”

I had to buy some carrots a bit ago to make some Beef Stew (I’ll be posting about it soon!). I’m not huge into carrots…I only like them cooked. I needed to use them or lose them, so I decided that there was no time like the present to whip up a sweet treat.

 

To be perfectly honest I’ve never been a big fan of carrot cake. This post is making me seem super picky lol (I’m really not). For some reason I just never like carrot cake that much. But back in my Peace Corps days I had a garden and I grew some stellar carrots. Back then EVERYTHING I made was from scratch, so the idea of making a cake from scratch with carrots I grew all by myself was too good to resist. So I ended up finding an awesome recipe.

Blast from the past Peace Corps photo of the day I picked my carrots!

So the other night I decided to bring forth the magic….also I may have needed something productive to do while I drank my wine…

I used my carrot cake recipe and a great cream cheese frosting recipe from the one and only Martha Stewart.

Here’s the recipe:

1 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp vanilla (that’s pretty conservative)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (again this is conservative)
2 c grated carrots

Combine sugar and oil in a bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix. Add it all together and mix in the carrots.
Put batter into a greased pan (spring forms work great) and bake for about 35 mins at 350.

Ok so in reality you can be a little more relaxed with this recipe. I legit dump everything in one bowl in whatever order I happen to read the ingredients. I’m not dirtying any more dishes than it is absolutely essential that I do.  Also when they give measurements for things like vanilla and cinnamon I take that as more of a suggestion. Who am I? the spice police? you use however much flavor you like!

Check out the link for the frosting recipe. Its super simple with only a few ingredients (powdered sugar, cream cheese and butter).

Apples to Apples: Part 3

Apples apples and more apples. That has been my life for like 2 weeks. But in my recent post I told you that I made Apple Butter in my crockpot.

I’ll be honest with you. I had NO idea what apple butter was, what it looked like, what it tasted like, or what the what you did with it. But friends and the internet said good things so I figured hey why not?

It is a bit of a process so it works best as a weekend thing.

Start by peeling, coring and chopping about a dozen apples. Then toss them in your crockpot.

Next add 1/4 c brown sugar and cinnamon (I used like 1.5 Tbs) and 1/2c water. Set your crockpot on low and cook for about 10 hours (overnight works best time wise).

In the morning you have this!

Then use a wooden spoon to prop the cover open and cook on high for around 4 more hours.

After around 4 hours the water cooks off so you have this tasty mess. You can leave it like this, or you can use a Magic Bullet or Immersion Blender to smooth it out. I happen to have both so I opted for smooth.

I divided my batch in half. I filled this adorable mason jar and put it in my fridge, and filled a tupperware container and stuck it in my freezer for later. Its really tasty stuff. It also makes for great holiday gifts come Christmas time.