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The name of this recipe had me drooling y’all, there are few things I love more than an apple pie. The problem was, D is very anti apple pie, what’s a girl to do when trying to show off for TWD and please her hard working man (he really is hard working, that man works like a mule)?

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 Pears! D loves pears, and ever since I made the pear crumble he’s been very enthusiastic about baking more of them. A little chat with the brilliant Jaime got us both wanting to try combining pears, apples, and cranberries for our filling. Nobody ever accused me of being the brightest, but I’ve got enough sense to know if she thinks something food related is a good idea it’s worth a try.

The first time I made the dough (half the recipe), I did it by the book and put it in the fridge for 3 hours. It stayed as sticky as it started out with, and my first turn overs fell apart when I tried to make them. They tasted perfect, but they looked so bad I knew that trying again was the right thing to do. The second time I made the dough, I forgot to put it in the fridge and got distracted watching Star Trek with D! Oh no! The funny thing was that when I picked it up to put it away, it was firmer. Not dried out, and I’d added a little extra flour but it was a lot more dough like. Why not try it right? Floured a silicone sheet, and patted out two large circles. Added the filling, and using a spatula carefully flipped one half over and pressed it closed. It wasn’t sticky, it worked! Lifted it to the baking pan, and baked it at 375 F for 20 minutes.

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If y’all are kind, you’ll call them rustic. No laughing at how I like things better when they look like that, ain’t got nothing against fancy but this makes me hungry! They’re big enough that D and me split one, and we were both satisfied after half. It was almost too much! The pastry is so good you could eat it by itself. The other half that i didn’t use for the turn overs, I made into a log and put in the fridge to make cookies with.

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Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

For The Dough

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flourFor The Apples
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (Dorie likes to use Fuji , Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; her grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting

To Make The Dough:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice – the dough will probably curdle, but don’t worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

 

To Make The Apples:
Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice – even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that’s fine – and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9×12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it’s a little more malleable, you’ve got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan – because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven’s heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick – you don’t want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that’s fine; if it doesn’t that’s fine too.

Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenly across the bottom.

Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you’ve got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don’t have that much overhang, just press what you’ve got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.
Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You’ll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.

Apple Turnovers
Roll out the dough until it is a little thinner than 1/4 inch and cut it into circles 4-1/2 to 5 inches in diameter. Fill each one with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the apple filling (I chop the apples when I’m using them in a small turnover) or substitute another fruit filling, apple butter and apple chunks or some great preserves. Brush the edges of each dough circle with a little water, fold over the dough to make a half circle pocket and use the tines of a fork to seal the edges. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and cut a steam slit in the top of each turnover. Bake in a 375-degree-F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and you can smell the sweet filling. Cool to room temperature before serving.

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Last week, D came home from a doc’s visit and put some papers in front of me. The doctor had put him on a restricted fat and calorie diet, 2000 calories and 40 g of fat a day. Y’all will forgive me if I ain’t doing the happy dance, but there’s no sense in whining about what is and to be honest I could stand to lose a few pounds. Right, there’s baking to be done and I ain’t gonna let this stand in the way of tasty food! Master Baker has declared cinnamon is the thing to use, and I give you the Cinnamon Pear Crumble. Its really simple, the crumble recipe is from Ellie Krieger (which shouldn’t surprise anybody) and the chocolate and cinnamon is my addition. Y’all would not believe the difference the chocolate makes. It turned it from a regular crumble to something I’ve been eating non stop.

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Pear Cinnamon Crumble With Dark Chocolate

The topping
1/4 c. oat flour or whole wheat flour
2/3 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. canola oil
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate

For the filling
3 lbs. firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 tbls. fresh lemon juice
1 tbls. cinnamon
2 tbls. granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Combine the topping ingredients is a medium bowl and work them together with a fork or your fingertips until uniformly moistened.
To make the filling, combine the pear slices, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the granulated sugar and toss to blend.
To assemble, coat an 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer the pear mixture to the dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pears. Bake the crumble until the pears are fork tender and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool while you melt the dark chocolate, and pour the chocolate into a small pastry bag or sandwich bag with a clipped tip. Pipe the chocolate over the crumble.

The best way to start this post off is by saying Julia Child is a genius. Not that it needs to be said, y’all knew that already. There ain’t nobody who can teach you how to put on your fancy France Pants and shake it in the kitchen like her! Therein lies the problem with me though, I ain’t French enough. Not even a little really, heavy butter and cream makes me run the other way and I ain’t fond of… to be honest… more crust than crumb. Y’all can tell this is going in a good direction already.

Making the bread was a good experience as far as the company goes! Anytime I get to do something with CB and Nikkiis the absolute best, and we found ourselves happily clucking away in a little hen’s nest Breadchick had pulled together to all do our thing at the same time. The Belles Of The Bread Ball were very helpfully, and there was much chatting, bad joke telling, and general nonsense as we tried to type with floury, oiled up hands.

The bread… y’all, I don’t like fussy recipes. French bread for me is usually a three hour affair and a simple shaping. This bread was very long, and my poor yeast seemed to be tired of the whole thing by the time I was because the third rising resembled my family after Thanksgiving. Kinda bloated and just laying there. The batard was making a half butted attempt to rise, but the first slash with a knife that I know to be razor sharp made it give up again and the poor thing deflated. It was, in my opinion, a rather wussy dough. Mind you, I’m used to doughs that are developed to be just fine with several toddlers hanging off your pants leg. Doughs that might punch you back when you punch them down and call you names.

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The shaping directions and me didn’t get along at all, and that’s my fault. Y’all who can translate written words into spatially valid directions have my admiration, I gotta see and feel it to make it work. Long directions like that ain’t for us tactile learners. Somehow, it got rolled into a relatively oblong shape, and this is what happened to it afterwards. Hah!

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These were epi rolls. Hush. Stop laughing, I can hear y’all from over here. They were really pretty before they kinda rose! Baking made them… y’all can tell from the pics.
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This one was braided and covered with garlic and herbs. It wasn’t bad, as this failed attempt went. Ain’t got any pictures of the little round rolls, we ate those too quickly. The oven got pissy on me and they bottoms for some of the bread burned, which didn’t improve anything. In short, this recipe was too much crust and not enough bread for us. The French apparently like their bread this way. (crusty, not burnt) A round loaf was made too, and it came out the very best. It was overly salty to me, and got dry too quickly but it was edible. Then it gave us heartburn, as a little insult to injury. This house ain’t French. If y’all are, get the recipe here. Go look at the pics from people who had a success.

D loved these, and I ain’t arguing with him about it. Y’all, these are so tasty it ain’t even right! They were simple and friendly, the dough was so nice to work with and they were done before you could clean up after them. A few things I changed, walnuts instead of pecans and low fat buttermilk instead of whole milk. Wanna try these with whole wheat flour!

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Now y’all, cutting in butter ain’t never been one of my favourite things to do. That’s why when I heard about this technique, I was really happy to try it! It’s worked out good, and this recipe was no exception. Using a cheese grater, very cold butter can be grated into your flour mixture instead of cutting your butter. Toss it with a fork a little, and you’re good to go! It’s a lot quicker, and you don’t have to worry about warming the butter up as you cut and rub it. Y’all won’t be disappointed with this trick. Y’all can tell I didn’t have a biscuit cutter, a star cookie cutter made these really cute!

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A little apple butter is the perfect accompaniment to these tender guys. A cheerful fried egg and a biscuit was a great breakfast, and one that D says is a keeper. He’s the one who vetoes or approves the food around here. He’s a really good one to feed, he ain’t picky and he’s always encouraging me to try new things. Don’t ya love him (and these biscuits)?

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Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
 (Makes about 12 biscuits)

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 cup cold sour cream
1/4 cold whole milk
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a bow. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between– and that’s just right.

Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Grab a fork and gently toss and turn the ingredients together until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick gentle kneading– 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together. Toss in the pecans and knead 2 to 3 times to incorporate them.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour, pat the dough out with your hands or toll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely even– a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of the first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working with them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits ca be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting– just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14-18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.

This is my favourite recipe for pork chops and apples. Like it so much I served it to my mom and g-ma, and that’s saying something because those women know good food! Y’all know me, I can’t leave well enough alone so I included the original recipe from Taste Of Home. Gonna tell y’all what I did differently, this recipe is really flexible.

It’s D and me, I used 3 pork chops which makes one for each of us and 1 for him at work tomorrow. Always use all the apple cider, used yellow mustard which is what I had and a regular onion. One apple was enough for the smaller supper, and I always use cranberries instead of currants. they’re done at the 18 minutes, but I simmer them for 30 minutes because it makes them nicer.

Pork Chops And Apples

 

 

Apple Raisin Pork Chops

8 pork chops
1 tbls. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 c. apple cider or juice
3 tbls. spicy brown mustard
3 medium apples, sliced
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. dried currants
2 tbls. cornstarch
1/4 c. cold water

In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil in batches on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return all chops to skillet.

Combine cider and mustard; pour over meat. bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 13 – 18 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove chops to a serving platter; keep warm.

Add the apples, onions, raisins and currants to the skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes or until apples are tender. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into apple mixture. bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with pork chops.

Is it a big box of fish? Cat food? A chicken for Pi?

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Awwww, poor Pi. It’s a bunch of whole wheat flours and grains I got from Hodgson Mill. Been waiting for these to make some recipes from my new cook book Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads. D gave it to me for Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been fidgeting to make something.

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The recipes are very long and can be a bit complicated at first. A lot of it reads like a chemistry text book, which I love but it ain’t for the totally new to baking people. He teaches some new techniques, and I love learning them. The first thing I tried I wanted to be on the simpler side, and I was feeling inspired by  Bread Baking Day #7 – Flatbreads which led me to try to make crackers! Thin Wheat Crackers.

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As always, this tiny little bit of counter is where I do all of my cooking. There’s something I really like about how everything fits in front of the book.

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At first I was worried that I wasn’t gonna be able to tell which one I’d added rye flour too. This was a very silly worry. Y’all can tell right?

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Ain’t they cute, all nestled under their blankie?

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Taken out in my tiny garden, the arugula and lettuce seedlings are in the back waving at the camera.

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Thin Wheat Crackers

1 c. Whole Wheat Flour (you can mix in other grains, try to keep the ratio about 65% to 70% whole wheat flour and 30% to 35% other flours)
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbls. Milk, Buttermilk, Yogurt, Soy Milk, or Rice Milk
1 1/2 tbls. Honey or Agave Nectar or 2 tbls. Sugar or Brown Sugar
4 tbls. Vegetable Oil or Light Olive Oil
Extra Whole Wheat Flour for adjustments
1 tbls. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt dissolved in 1/2 c. water for salt water wash

Combine the 1 c. flour and the salt, milk, honey, and oil in a bowl and mix until the ingredients come together to form a ball of dough. Ass extra flour or milk as needed to make a firm but tacky dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes, adjusting the flour or liquid as needed; the dough should feel like modeling clay and have a satiny surface. It should not be soft and sticky or crumbly.

If baking the crackers immediately, preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover the dough with a cloth towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes, then move on to the next step. If holding the dough overnight form it into a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature overnight.

When you are ready to bake the crackers, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Mist the work surface lightly with pan spray or wipe it with just a touch of oil on a paper towel. This makes it easier to lift the dough later. Transfer the dough to the work surface and, working from the center of the dough out to the four corners, roll it out into a rectangle, dusting the top of the dough with flour only if needed to prevent sticking. Roll the dough out as thinly as it will allow, about 1/4 inch. If the dough begins to spring back, let it rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling until the rectangle is about 1/8 inch thick. Brush the top of the dough with the salt water wash.

Use a pizza roller or a pastry scraper to cut the dough into whatever sizes and shapes you desire (small rectangles are suggested). Use the pastry scraper or a metal spatula to transfer the individual crackers to the prepared sheet pan. They should not touch, but they can be close together. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking about 10 minutes longer, until the crackers begin to turn a rich brown on both the top and the underside.

Let the crackers cool on the pan before serving. They will crisp up as they cool.

Oh y’all. What can a girl say when a recipe like this gets chosen but that? The more people talked about it, the more I was almost jumping out of my chair to make it! Around here, we wait until Saturdays for the baking (that way I can unload leftovers on people at the Saturday family dinner), but this one almost made me break my rule! A few people said the cake was too dark, and that this household drool even more.

Saturday took it’s sweet time getting here, but that morning I was ready to get to work.

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Aint got a double boiler, but a metal bowl on top of a sauce pan worked fine. This part was so easy, I mixed it with running outside a few times to watch D try to wrestle an old push lawn mower into submission. It was good timing! Got to try to push it around, but any real work was gotten out of by pointing out my chocolate was gonna burn.

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Ain’t this neat? Who knew folding egg whites into chocolate would look like pics from the Hubble telescope? This is even better than the Milky Way!

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This cake was so fun to make. Ain’t a bit harder than an average ol’ cake you throw in quick for unexpected company, and it came together so nicely you could. Ain’t a person that would be disappointed to be served this either (unless they’re one of those odd people who don’t like chocolate, but we don’t talk about them in polite company), and it’s sure to get you lots of compliments.

Tried to make my first ganache for this one, and it couldn’t have been simpler. A little hot cream over some chopped up chocolate did the trick, we didn’t have any corn syrup for the glaze Dorie had and I ain’t partial to corn syrup.

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The neighbours are convinced I’m odd, as well as the pierced and eyeliner caked teenage boy who wandered by as I was crouched down in the front lawn taking pics. Ain’t it pretty? The reflections of light made me feel like I had done something right.

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Here’s a few pics of the crumb. It was dense, but I didn’t think it was as dense as some of the other people were saying. D declared it similar to a really good brownie, and I agreed. That’s high praise around here.

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Almost-Fudge Gâteau

5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Glaze (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Getting Ready:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.  Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee.  Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine.  Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.

Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks.  Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest.  Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate.  Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan.  Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper.  Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up.  As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze:

First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot.  Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny.  Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula.  Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms.  Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

 A young man only turns one once in his life, and what better way to do so then by pillaging, plundering, and saying yarr? In celebration of a certain boy’s first b-day over at Quirky Cupcake, I give you Pirate Cupcakes. Flavoured with Key Lime in honour of the Florida coast’s long love affair with pirates, and rum extract to celebrate all things grog, these cupcakes are very mild and not too exotic for a kid’s taste buds. The rum extract gives them a hint of the beloved butter rum Life Saver, and the lime is there but not overwhelming or sharp. I wanted to make this something your average kid wouldn’t find weird or unfamiliar tasting. It’s very easy to add more lime to the frosting for the adults, it sharpens it up and cuts some of the sweet that a kid would often like better.

 

 

Cupcake (Adapted From Perfect Party Cake, Dorie Greenspan)

2 1/4 c. flour (she says cake flour, I used AP flour)
1 tbls. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. whole milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 tsp Key Lime juice (this is different from Dorie’s recipe, she uses 1/2 tsp. lemon extract)
1 tsp. rum extract (Dorie’s recipe doesn’t use that at all)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the lime juice and the rum extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Pour into cupcake tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.

Frosting

2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 stick of butter, softened
1 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
Key Lime juice to taste (2 tsp. for a mild, child friendly taste, the more you add the tangier it gets)

Whip together until well blended.

The decorations are some left over frosting with enough cocoa powder put in to make it dark and thick. Piped it with a frosting bag, and a 4 Wilton decorator tip.

It’s the first time I’ve tried the Frugal Foodie Challenge hosted by Food Revolution, an event that only made sense with how often that word is used around here! (Usually things like “Are you sure you’re being frugal sweetie?” and “Didn’t you say this was gonna be a frugal month princess?” uttered hopefully by the beleaguered D) This is one of my favourite recipes, it might sound a bit odd but I promise it’s very good and simple.

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The chicken I took from a chicken I had put in the crock pot whole and left there without anything else for a good 12 hours. Doing it this way doesn’t over cook the chicken, and it allows you to easily separate the bones and skin away from the meat with no effort and very little waste. You get a lot more meat than if you scrape the bones (at least my untalented at it self does), and the left over broth is really nice. If you ain’t using a crock pot, boil up some skinless chicken breasts or legs and thighs, whatever your preference is.Dark meat is as delicious as white meat in this, and dark meat is obviously cheaper. I used the equivalent of about two breasts worth of meat.

Chop up the chicken, and throw it in a bowl with one chopped up apple with the skin on, one to two handfuls of cranberries, raisins, or a combination of both (half of one of the foil packs of cranberries and golden raisins together is what I used), 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, a little pepper, a handful and a half of chopped walnuts, and about a half cup of low fat yogurt. Mix it all together, and put some on bread for sandwiches, chips, whatever you want. It fills us up very well, even D’s 6′ 4″ still eats like a half starved Navy man self. Don’t be fooled by it being healthy, it’s tasty!

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Chicken 3.00 (less if you use dark meat)
Apple .50
Yogurt .50
Cinnamon
Bread .50 (used 1/4th of a loaf so I called it .50 )
Cranberries and Raisins 1.00 (used half the package, y’all can probably find it cheaper)
Pepper
Walnuts 1.00 (rounded up a bit)

$6.50 at the very most

Florida has pretty expensive groceries.

A water bath? There it was, mocking me and my rather incomplete set of baking pans and dishes. Where in the world was I gonna get a pan big enough to hold even my smallest springform pan? Oh sure, there was one at the store, but with no room in the budget to spare this month, no way was I gonna make a case for getting a pan for the sole purpose of holding a cheesecake, hah! Right then… ya know, on Myth Busters the other day they made a balloon out of foil, why not a roasting pan? Try to follow the logic here…

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You can’t really use tape on something you’re gonna put in the heat, but if we scrunch the layers of foil up the right way (of course they ain’t the wide foil, ugh) and put it on the baking sheet… It managed to hold the water well enough, and the cheesecake was on!

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It ain’t the fanciest food processor, but it does manage to have two speeds and a blade, so the gingersnap crumbs got all nice. Y’all love me, which is why we ain’t gonna speak about how I read it wrong first and ended up with 20 gingersnaps and two sticks of melted butter. Ew. Beating the dyslexia back with a whip and a chair, I figured it out and made a nice little crust. Most of the gingersnaps made it into the crust, only a few brave little ones sacrificed themselves to my gingersnap obsession.

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The batter was so easy to make, it was like a little cheesecake party! What had me fearing I was gonna be stressed, ended up being fun. Ain’t it pretty?

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D ain’t a big fan of cooked apples in pies and such, so I used the apple butter variation. It ain’t nothing, you put some apple butter in the batter after it’s in the pan, and swirl it around with a knife. The apple butter is heavy, so you gotta swirl and hope for the best really.

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It looks like a cheesecake don’t it? It’s the first one I ever made, and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s very tasty, and I’m doing a dance to know I can make cheesecakes now! The only crack in the cheesecake was a little one when my thumb poked it too hard taking it out of the oven. Who knew, the redneck water bath worked! Could eat half of this cheesecake by myself. Dorie Greenspan, I love you!

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Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

For the Crust
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups.  (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.)  Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you’re using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened.  Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they’ll go.  Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.  (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides.  Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned.  Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling.  Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so.  Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples.  Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake:  Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand.  Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth.  Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes.  Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in.  Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan.  Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top.  Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark.  The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center–if the center shimmies, that’s just fine.  Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan’s latch and release and remove the sides.