Apple Bread

applebread

This recipe from Genius Kitchen is just what you need for a cozy fall (or winter—it’s snowing here!) day. It’ll warm up your house, your heart, and your belly. Yum. I’ve tweaked the recipe some, so refer back to Genius Kitchen’s page for the original. This yields two loaves, as all good quick bread recipes should.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups diced apples (large dice is nice), no skins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon flour

DIRECTIONS

Mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, salt and baking powder together.

Beat eggs and add sugar and oil. Add vanilla and dry ingredients. Stir in apples.

Mix walnuts in a tsp of flour and add to batter. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

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Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

This recipe, from Damn Delicious (a wonderful resource), makes a great soup that, I think, is incredibly flexible. I’m posting the recipe as is–which is how I made it, uh, mostly–and will post my own recipe notes down below. If I make it again I absolutely will tweak it.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes with basil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

FOR THE PARMESAN CHEDDAR CROUTONS

  • 4 cups (1-inch) French bread cubes
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. To make the parmesan cheddar croutons, spread bread cubes in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with cheeses. Place into oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway; set aside and let cool.
  3. Place tomatoes into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in tomato sauce, vegetable broth, garlic, onion, bell pepper, tomato paste, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper until well combined. Crush the tomatoes into chunks using the back of a spoon.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  5. Puree with an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached. Stir in heavy cream and basil; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Serve immediately with parmesan cheddar croutons.
**Notes: I added a full pint of heavy cream to the recipe and appreciated that level of creaminess. Next time I will omit the red bell pepper as I think pepper overpowers tomato soups. You can monkey around with the spices just as you would with a canned tomato soup. It can handle more basil, oregano, maybe some onion powder and Italian spices. I also like adding parmesan cheese to my soup before serving. Final note: I didn’t think the croutons were worth the effort. I did use a wheat French bread, but overall the taste was pretty bland. If I were to make them again I’d look up crouton recipes and mess with something to make them more flavorful. However, my favorite thing to eat with tomato soup is grilled cheese. Always. Great soup, with a really lovely texture. If you’re going for flavor alone though, this doesn’t taste that different from canned soups.

Just Like Chipotle’s Corn Salsa

My husband loves Chipotles’ corn salsa and now I think I might, too. This recipe, via how sweet it is, is delicious.

(Makes a big bowl)

1 12-ounce bag of frozen sweet yellow corn, defrosted and drained
2 medium-sized jalapenos, seeded and chopped (leave in some seeds for more heat if desired)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, torn or chopped
the juice of 2 (juicy!) limes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix, mix, mix. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Add more cilantro, jalapeno or lime according to your tastes!

Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ

Easy and quick recipe for the cook who is feeding a crowd. And if you’re not feeding a crowd, then you’ll be able to feed your family the rest of the week. Sandwiches, salads, with corn on the cob—yum! From allrecipes.com.

  • 6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbecue sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low.

Brownies

These are super easy. I bet you have everything for them in your pantry right now (which makes them free). And they taste at least as good as boxed brownies.Brownies* Truth in advertising disclaimer: the brownie pictured is actually a gluten-free brownie (recipe here) and not at all the brownies from this recipe.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or some combination of oils and applesauce; part coconut oil is nice, but all coconut oil would be overwhelming)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 8×8 pan for 20-25 minutes.

 

Grains and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Kale

kaleSo this isn’t technically one of the 101 simple salads, but it is a salad and it is simple. Also it is delicious, and I eat it a lot in the summertime. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 cups cooked brown rice (or today I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend)
  • 1 to 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (1 can will do just fine)
  • 2 cups chopped raw kale
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • handful of chopped green onions or fresh chives
  • handful basil leaves, chiffonade (I always forget this, and it’s still tasty)
  • scant 1/4 cup olive oil (I usually go really scant)
  • juice of one lemon
  • (sea) salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss together.

 

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin (with Ham)

I had potatoes and I had ham, so that settled it—time to make Potatoes au Gratin. I selected The Pioneer Woman’s recipe, tweaked it a little and doubled it for our small group dinner last night. It was crazy good; as in, two helpings good. Which is saying a lot for me because I usually choose to eat two helpings of dessert, not potatoes. Eat! And enjoy.

8 whole russet potatoes, peeled
2-3 T butter, softened
1 pint heavy cream
2 cup whole milk
4 T flour
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 t salt
pepper, to taste (don’t skimp!)
3 C ham, cubed
2 c sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.

Slice potatoes, then cut slices into fourths (thicker slices will take longer to cook). In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish, then place approximately 1 C of ham over it. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling. Add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving by the spoonful.

**This modified recipe serves 8 adults easily and allows leftovers for lunch the next day. To make a nice side dish you could omit the ham and reduce quantities of ingredients by half.