Sunday, November 21, 2010

Apple Pie that is that much better!

Everyone knows or has access to an apple pie recipe. However, try this twist on the classic and you may not go back to your original recipe...I know I won't!

Prepare (or buy dough) and cut apple as your normally would. Before filling the pie, make a caramel sauce to cover the apples. You can do this by simply melting butter in a pan and adding brown sugar, vanilla, and a little baking soda. Toss apples with cinnamon and then with caramel sauce. Fill pie crust and seal as usual. Back using same temperature and timing. Pair with fresh vanilla whipped cream and ice cream and even top with leftover caramel!

Slice your apples
Make the caramel sauce

Coat apples with the caramel sauce

Fill the pie!

Oktoberfest Pretzels with Beer and Chedder Fondue

I went to a great Oktoberfest dinner at a close friends and although I would like to make every all over again, this is the only recipe I have made from this night! Soft pretzels dipped in a savory cheese sauce....what can beat it? Not sure where he got the recipe but I got the pretzel recipe from my friend Bill and then we googled the fondue recipe!

Soft Pretzels

2 tbsp.Butter
3 cups flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 package Rapid Action Dry Active Yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (110-degrees)

Additional Ingredients:
3 tbsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. melted butter
course salt to taste (sea salt works best)
parchment paper or silpat

Using a counter top mixer, mix the butter and flour until evenly mixed (2-3 minutes).
Add sugar, salt, yeast and water. Make sure the dough hook is installed. Mix on high for
an additional 2-3 minutes. Knead the dough until it is thoroughly mixed and it loses it's
stickiness. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and roll into ropes about 15-20 inches long on a lightly
floured surface. Leave the middle part of the rope thicker than the rest of the rope. Twist
into a pretzel shape, tucking the end under the bottom of the pretzel and pinching it
together. Make sure both ends of the rope of dough are connected in a continuous pattern.
Let the twisted dough rise on the parchment paper for about ten minutes.

While the dough rises, heat 1 litre of water in a pan just to the boiling point - it should
NOT come to a boil - then add the baking soda and reduce the heat just a smidgen.
Gently place the uncooked pretzels into the water with a slotted spoon or spatula, one at a
time. Cook for exactly 20 seconds, dunking the pretzel as it sits in the water. Lift from the
water, drain and place on a baking sheet lined with the same parchment paper. Brush with
beaten egg white (this will give a shine to your pretzel). Sprinkle with sea salt (you do not
need a lot of salt) and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 13 minutes. The pretzels
should be a beautiful golden brown. Cool on baking rack.

Beer Fondue

1 bottle Lager beer
2 cups shredded sharp chedder cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Few drops of hot sauce
Few drops of Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, empty beer and heat until it just begins to boil. Sprinkle flour over cheese and the slowly add cheese to beer, constantly stirring in a figure eight pattern, until all cheese is incorporated. Bring to a boil then add last three ingredients. Let cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Serve immediately in a fondue pot.

NOTES on this dish: There is not much to add to this. The pretzels can be egg washed after buttering them to create a shiny appearance but is not necessary! Also, if you want to double the recipe, I would do so in separate batches to assure your dough rises appropriately. Also, yeast should be kept out for a bit before using. If it is fresh out the fridge, it takes longer to rise. For the fondue, if you can't or don't want to use Gruyere, you may use Swiss cheese and add a little ground nutmeg to give the nutty flavor that the Gruyere has. Also, you may leave out the hot sauce or add as much as you like but keep in mind it will give a vinegar hint to the fondue. I served the fondue with apples as well and it was a delicious sweet and savory pair. DO NOT omit the mustard when pairing this fondue with pretzels as it makes the connection like none other! Enjoy!

Kim's Chicken and Artichokes with Sundried Tomatoes

After having dinner at my friend Kim's house, I was looking forward to making this delicious recipe on my own. Add anything in that you would see fit as I did by adding some capers or leave out anything that doesn't suit your taste.


1 package chicken tenders, pounded
1 can artichokes, quatered
3-4 sundried tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon lemon juice
olive oil

Heat a deep saute pan and add oil and butter to coat bottom of pan. After pounded chicken, coat in flour and brown in pan until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once all chicken is cooked, set it aside. Add garlic to pan and slightly brown. Add broth and deglaze the pan removing all browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add artichokes, wine, and tomatoes. Let sauce come to a boil and start to thicken. If the sauce does not thicken, you may add some extra flour by whisking it into the broth. Once thickened, add capers and lemon juice and return chicken to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let chicken cook in sauce on low heat for about 6-8 minutes to make sure chicken is cooked through. Serve over pasta or rice. Enjoy!

NOTES on this dish: I used soy butter and needed to add extra salt. Any white wine will work for this dish.

Autumnal treat....

Quick Tip: Add pumpkin puree to any pancake mix for a delicious twist on a breakfast favorite! According to Gordon, my pumpkin pancakes were "very good"!

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

A creamy savory soup that will speak for itself. I first had this soup from Stew Leonards called the Autumn Harvest soup. My mom found a recipe and we tried to change it. Turns out the recipe we found, when followed directly from Rachel Ray, produces the same delicious soup we had a few weeks back.

And the best part about only takes about 20 minutes!


2 tablesppons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped to your liking

2 cans (15 oz) pumpkin puree
4 cups veggie stock (store bought will do!)
1 can (15 oz) petite diced (salt free) tomatoes with the juice
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 cup light cream (optional but recommended)
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
course salt

Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add onions and cook for 5 minutes until they are translucent. Make sure not to burn or even brown them. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans, and pumpkin. Stir until fully incorporated. Bring to a boil on med-high heat. Add cream and remaining spices. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

NOTES on this dish: This soup is amazing. We tried to not add the tomatoes and it completely changed the taste. If you are a bean lover, add two cans. If you are not into spice, leave out the cayenne but adding more would ruin the rest of the flavors. I'm assuming you you can leave out the cream and you would still get a good result but the creaminess it adds is worth it in my book! Serve with fresh baked bread for an added treat (thanks mom!)