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Category Archives: Snacks

Impulse Pie

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Conveniently enough (since I chose one of the flavors myself) this week’s cupcake orders involve apple pie filling.  So I woke up this morning excited to make it again.   (Sorry Lind!) 

Not coincidentally, I just so happened to have a refrigerated pie crust that was a month or so past its expiration date and needed to be used.  (PS ~ in case you ever wondered, those dates are just suggestions and, I think, marketing devices.  Don’t throw away refrigerated pie crust if the date on the box leads you to believe [erroneously] it has expired.  It’s fine.  Trust me.)

I didn’t actually want to make a pie.   If pies were cupcakes, they’d be hand pies, like these:

They start out with simple little rounds of pie dough.  The perfect size is a Folgers coffee can lid, fyi.  I’d say they’re about 4.5 inches or so. 

(Meanwhile in the living room Rick is hollering expletives at the tv because MSU just committed another personal foul and Denard is on the ground.  “They are a dirty #&%$#@& team!”  My mom was right.  Those ugly uniforms make them look like the thugs they are…)

At any rate, this really is the perfect blustery fall day for an impulse pie.  Or several mini ones, as the case may be. 

It took me a bit of negotiating with these things to get the right amount of filling in each one.  I really wanted to put a lot more apples in them than they wanted to hold. 

I’d say they only got about a tablespoon each (I spooned off probably 1/3 of the filling from the one above after taking the pic).  So obviously, the crust-to-filling ratio is pretty steep.  The good thing about that is they’re not very sweet at all.  Perfect for a mid-day (or half-time) snack. 

Today, with the state our team is in, they’d go perfectly with a shot of rum to kill the pain. 

I rolled the leftover pie crust out for a mini lattice-topped pie, decorated with a heart inspired by a friend from Up North.  =) 

In totally unrelated news:  there’s a wedding today at Black Star Farms.  I really wish we were there for some reason helping with dinner.  Even if it was just to help serve.  I wonder if they’d ever take on a part-time, events-only, self-taught “independent contractor” to work as a soux chef…  Hm…  They wouldn’t even have to pay me, just let me hang out with the chefs and eat a meal.  And drink some wine afterward.  Hm…


Injury + Insult = Mmmmmm

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Injury + Insult = Mmmmmm

The power of suggestion is fierce. 

Last week was an onslaught of caramel apples.  Everywhere I turned, they appeared in some form of dessert – on one of my favorite blogs, via Facebook message from my cousin, at the grocery store, and even McDonald’s!  Yes, Mickey D’s is advertising a new caramel apple sundae that I may have to taste-test.  I’m a little worried that might feel like cheating on the hot fudge, though. 

Anyway, this baby is what I call adding insult to injury – sweet, tart, rich, creamy, crunchy, MMMmmm! 


(cinnamon-sugar cider donuts – which, I have to admit, we went almost a mile out of our way to get because there weren’t any at the big grocery store where we impulsively bought everything else.  And notice how we only used 1 & 3/4 donuts, split between two bowls?  Keepin’ it real  😉


(Double vanilla ice cream – Kroger’s private selection brand.  Have you SEEN their latest flavors???  Pumpin cheesecake, cherry amaretto… ugh, buying vanilla took SO much self-discipline.)


(Homemade cinnamon apple pie filling with golden delicious AND honey crisp apples, Michigan cider and real butter – Ka-CHOW!  Recipe below.)


(Warm Hershey’s caramel sauce – that little river of sweet vanilla-appley-caramelly goodness makes me want to cry a little.)


(Chopped honey-roasted peanuts & crushed Trefoils – those crispy shortbread Girlscout cookies, yeah, see?)

And  – AND – would you believe I thought about adding whiskey or rum to the apple sauce?  Heh, that would’ve been the ultimate insult to this injurious dessert – and I mean that in the most delicious way possible. 

I can’t take credit – this was Shelly’s idea, my blogger hero over at Cookies & Cups.  She put all these flavors together in a trifle – one large, pretty bowl with cake, custard, donuts, caramel, apple pie filling, etc., that would’ve probably served 10-12 people.  Since we didn’t have 10 or 12 people to share dessert with on Saturday, I couldn’t in good conscience make a huge trifle.  So instead we made individual caramel apple sundaes served on top of cider donuts.  Incredible.

I LOVED this apple pie sauce!  I need to make it once more, though, to balance te sweetness factor better.  This was just a touch too sweet.  In case I don’t get back to it until way later in the season, here’s what I did and how I will adjust it next time:

Apple Pie Ice Cream Topping

3 large apples peeled, cored & chopped into 1/2” cubes – I used 2 golden delicious and 1 honey crisp.

3 T butter

2/3 cup sugar (but I would only use 1/3 cup next time)

2/3 cup apple cider

1/4 – 1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash’a  nutmeg

dash’a salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, simmer all the ingredients listed above, stirring occasionally until the apples soften to your desired tooth – I think I cooked these for about 6-8 minutes so they weren’t crunchy but not totally mushy, either.

Meanwhile, mix 1 T milk into 1 T flour in a cup and slowly pour it into the boiling cider while stirring to prevent lumps.  This will thicken the mixture considerably so it’s just like the inside of an apple pie.  Cool slightly and serve over vanilla ice cream & cider donuts, top with chopped honey roasted peanuts. 

(I have no idea why this dessert caused me to channel Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen in Cars, but it did.  Ka-CHOW!)

Thank you Shelly and Trina for inspiring this incredibly delicious dessert!

Indian Summer

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Aaahhh… summer is NOT gone.  No no no, it is NOT!  Because we still have THESE coming out of our landscaping:

Yes, I said landscaping.

No, I didn’t mean “garden.”  We don’t have a garden. 

We grow tomatoes in our landscaping.  You’d have to see it to understand why it works, but trust me, it does.  Our landscaping is fairly, um, naturalized.  I mean that in the most complimentary way, I do!  We totally intended it to be that way. 

We have six tomato plants weaseled between the hydrangeas, barberry, burning bushes, ornamental grasses and smokebushes, and right now they all have a million green tomatoes on them.  STILL! 

These babies are Sweet One Hundreds.  Rachel Ray was cooking with them sometime last spring on one of her shows and I thought they looked adorable.  Aren’t they?  They’re, like, tiny!  So I snagged a four pak of seedlings (plus two Big Boy plants) when we made our too-early-for-reasonable-men-to-buy-annuals-but-we’re-suffering-from-debilitating-cabin-fever-and-must-see-green-plants trek to Buds & Blooms, the big huge greenhouse 15 miles east of town, last Mother’s Day weekend.  I swear, we’ve been harvesting a handful of these buggers every day for the last month and we’re still not sick of them.  Well, I mean, technically I’ll only eat them cooked in stuff, but Rick eats them like candy.  I guess as far as tomatoes go that means they’re pretty good. 

I do not eat raw tomatoes.  It’s pretty much the only food I truly hate.  So much so that I know when a sandwich place or fast food restaurant almost screwed up my special order, put the tomatoes on, then unwrapped the sandwich before I could find out, took off the tomatoes, wrapped it up again and served it to me anyway.  Gag!  Tomato residue on my bread – not cool. 

BUT!  My BFF Giada once roasted tomatoes in olive oil, salt & pepper and did something beautiful and simple with them like probably put them on a plate.  Drew me in like a moth to a flame (which may or may not happen everyday from 6:00 – 7:00 on Cooking Channel).  I added basil (because we planted an entire huge pot of that, too, last spring; it’s my favorite) and couldn’t resist.  The resulting dish smelled so incredible I had to try it.  Amazing!  This could be (and has been) its own special form of bruchetta on crostini, or a pasta sauce, or a topping on grilled chicken with parmesan cheese, or with caramelized onions in a summer salad like this incredible one from Joy… delish! 

Tonight we actually spread them on grilled chicken club sandwiches with spinach & provolone, kind of as a tomato jam.  Weird?  NO – amazing!  Sorry, we ate them before I could get pictures.  You’d understand if you’da been here. 

Oh, and yes, our basil is slowly becoming a houseplant.  I didn’t have the heart to leave it all out in the cold a few days ago so, at a friend’s recommendation I cut a few bunches and have put little vases of basil all over the house.  If I had to choose between roses or basil, you know what it’d be 😉   

Oh, PS:  that gorgeous olive oil was a gift from Jessica & Doug.  It came as a bonus one day along with a wonderful balsamic vinegar in our Cline wine-of-the-month club.  BONUS!

Frosting & popcorn

Sometimes I have frosting for dinner.

Just frosting.

Maybe with a glass of milk.

Sometimes I overdo it.  What can I say, my intentions are good, I’m just overly diligent in my taste-testing and when I like something I make, I indulge. 

It’s an accident.  Or, more like an occupational (hobbyational?) hazard.  I mean, don’t you think it’d be irresponsible of me to put gross-tasting frosting on a batch of cupcakes I’m making for someone else?  It is necessary to taste-test my product. 

Last Friday was one of those accidental over indulgences.  I made this simple peanut butter frosting for my Aunt’s banana cupcakes.  I wanted it to be light-ish, not too buttery, not too sweet, and very peanut-buttery. 

Would you believe I measured stuff and wrote. it. down.???  I did.  😀 

Perfect Peanut Butter Frosting.

1 stick of room temperature butter creamed in mixing bowl on medium for about 2 minutes, until light & fluffy;

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif) creamed into the butter for one minute or so;

2 cups powdered sugar (I did NOT bother sifting – tsk, tsk – I know) added to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time;

2-3 Tablespoons milk added right after the last installment of sugar, on low speed until no longer splashy, then mixed on medium for about 3 minutes;

Dash of salt added at the end (or two dashes if you use unsalted butter). 

AND I should have added some vanilla, but don’t think I did.  Next time I will.  About a teaspoon. 

Drizzled with chocolate ganache, just because.  (1/4 cup or so Nestles semi-sweet chocolate chips + tablespoon milk, slowly melted in microwave & wisked til shiny & smooth).

SO, because I had frosting for dinner (WAY too much of it, too, with chocolate ganache on the side) and still had to feed the husband (who ALSO ate way too much frosting & ganache but was still hungry), I made this lovely creation:


Inspired by several Greek colleagues, I added some dried oregano, coarse black pepper and garlic powder to the butter I melted in the microwave whilst popping the popcorn (on the stove in Omega-3 vegetable oil in a giant pot – not air-popped).  I poured on the savory butter then sprinkled on some giant parmesan cheese flakes and a little salt.  Mmmm…. this was spectacular. 

The accompanying cocktail (Bacardi white rum, lime & tonic with fresh mint) was serendipitous. 

So, frosting for dinner, popcorn & rum for dessert.  Balanced meal, maybe not, but it was certainly a fun Friday!