Last weekend I went to an apple orchard with a group of friends. Since then I’ve been searching for a great recipe (or two) to make with all the apples I picked. I tried an apple crisp earlier this week, but it called for lemon juice. While it looked good, I could only taste Lemon – really not what I was going for.
Tonight I’m having dinner at a friend’s house, and since she’s doing the cooking I offered to bring something to share. She said how about desert? …Perfect! I can totally handle that.
I decided brownies were in order. And while I don’t mind regular from the box brownies, I thought I’d try my hand at something new. After doing some searching through recipes I decided I would give these a try. Now, I know they are for later, but what kind of friend would I be if I showed up with sub-par brownies? I had to do a taste taste purely for quality control purposes (clearly nothing to do with my chocolate craving). They are pretty nummy. A little gooey, but that’s what makes s’mores great!
10 Graham Crackers, broken in half (20 squares)
1-1/2 sticks butter or margarine
4 squares Unsweetened Chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
2-1/2 cups Miniature Marshmallows
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Chunks
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil; grease foil. Place 15 grahams in pan, overlapping slightly. Break remaining grahams into pieces; set aside. Microwave butter and chocolate squares in large microwaveable bowl on High 2 min.; stir until melted. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour. Pour over grahams in pan. Bake 30 to 32 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Sprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate chunks. Bake 3 to 5 min. or until marshmallows begin to puff. Press reserved graham pieces gently into marshmallows. Cool. Use foil to remove brownies from pan before cutting to serve.
So it was back to the drawing board, and I came across a recipe for Caramel Apple Bars. I’m a little short on time, so I substituted for the homemade caramel. Instead I used a bag of Caramel bits and a little bit of water. The bars are a little soft, so you’ll need a plate and a fork. These smelled so good coming out of the oven I had one almost right away, and they are very good. This is just the kind of fall recipe I was looking to make. I even got a glowing review from Patricia and the grandkids. 🙂
So the big day finally arrived on Sunday. It was time to make the Princess Cake. I made two recipes of the Yellow Cake from earlier. Three layers were 8 inch rounds, and one was baked in a bowl to make the rounded top of the skirt. Then I made a double recipe of buttercream frosting for between the layers and a thin coat on the outside. After stacking and icing the layers I covered with a layer of fondant to give it a smoother finish. The cake was then decorated with sparkly gel icing, which ending up running a bit on me.
It was a little stressful, but it turned out pretty good for my first attempt at something this large. I’m told that the birthday girl’s little brother wants a fancy cake for his birthday too, so we’ll see what he requests for his big day!
I started out the day intending to open a jar of spaghetti sauce and make some meatballs to dress it up a bit. Patricia continues to push me to make more things from scratch, so when I told her my plan she of course was opposed. She told me I could make the sauce myself. She also happily provided me a few key ingredients I didn’t have on hand. 🙂
Once again she was right. Not only did it taste great, I also got to use some of the herbs I’ve been growing and a home grown tomato I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use. I’ll include my ingredients here but the measurements are not exact – I just added things until I liked the taste. I’m more the type of person to follow a recipe to a T, but I’m learning to cook more by taste and come up with my own variations.
This recipe made quite a bit! Since there are only two in my household, I froze the leftovers to eat again another time.
1 lb ground beef
12 oz italian sausage
1 tsp mustard
1/2 cup onion
1/4 grated parmesan cheese mix
1/2 cup bread crumbs (Patricia says used crushed Cheez-its)
fresh basil, chives, parsley (about 1 tbsp)
Mix throughly and form into 2 tbsp balls, about 34. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min until cooked through.
3 cans tomato sauce
1 medium tomato, cut up
3 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup onion
1 small can black olives
fresh basil, chives, parsley
Stir to combine ingredients. Simmer on stove or in crockpot with meatballs until heated through or until ready to serve.
Every time I pass a candy store I’m tempted to go in and pick out a treat. Usually if I give in and pick something out, I get some toffee. So I decided I would try to make some for myself.
Below is the recipe I used, though I would cut back a bit on the almonds. I didn’t quite use a full cup and it’s still a bit too nutty for me.
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 6 oz semisweet choc chips)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Place almonds on a baking sheet and bake them for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Once the nuts have cooled to room temperature, place in a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, and pulse the almonds until they are finely chopped. Sprinkle half of the nuts in an 8 by 10 inch rectangle on a buttered or oiled baking sheet. Set aside.
In a medium-sized, heavy saucepan combine the brown sugar, water and butter. Have the baking soda and vanilla extract ready. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and cook. Stir as little as possible and use a wooden spoon to help prevent sugar crystallization. Continue until the mixture reaches 285 degrees F (soft-crack stage) on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat as the temperature will continue to rise. Add the baking soda and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
Immediately pour this mixture evenly over the nuts on your baking sheet. Then place the chopped chocolate over the hot toffee. After a few minutes the chocolate will be soft enough to spread with an offset spatula in an even layer over the toffee. Sprinkle the remaining chopped almonds over the melted chocolate.
Cool completely and then cut using a sharp knife or break into pieces.
Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for 7 – 10 days.