Tip Tuesday: A New Recipe Source

Tip Tuesday

The Internet made meal planning an easy reality.  Blogs, recipe sites, access to foods and cuisines previously unheard of.  Ingredients, even.

And then the gifs.  Gif recipe loops on imgur and the like are addictive to the foodie-inclined.

One that has kept my mind occupied before but that I only just worked up the nerve to try was the Apple Pie Bake.

Innocuous name for something you can’t look away from.  If you clicked the link, you probably haven’t looked away yet.

I will wait.

A local restaurant (Chimi V’s) serves an apple pie on a sizzling skillet slathered with this sauce to die for and sided by ice cream.  This is the only apple-pie-ish recipe that comes close.

But seriously, if you have the sauce recipe for that apple pie, I will not be upset if you feel the need to share.  Seriously (which my phone for some reason recognizes as “hey, Siri” and feels the need to turn Siri on.  Does anyone else have that problem?  No?  Just me?).

I wouldn’t mind if you share it with me.

But back to the Apple Pie Bake.  This is a recipe I only made one change to.  I peeled the apples before chopping them.  Cooked apples in their skin makes me cringe.

Have you returned yet from the Imgur-Addictive-Watching?

Apple Pie Bake

Source:  Imgur (See link above)

2 packages refrigerated cinnamon roll dough, frosting packs reserved and bought to room temperature, dough chopped roughly

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 T cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 T butter

2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the dough chunks evenly in the bottom of a 9×9 square pan.  Whisk together milk, cinnamon, eggs and vanilla.  Pour it over the cinnamon roll dough.  In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add brown sugar and apples and cook until apples are softened.  Pour apple mixture over dough and custard mixture.  Drizzle both packets of frosting over the mixture.

Place the pan atop a cookie sheet to catch any bubble-over.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until cinnamon roll dough is cooked and top is browned.

Cool slightly before cutting into squares and eating a la mode with vanilla bean ice cream slowly melting atop the apple pie bake wedge.

This recipe is completely Muffin (and Mama and Josh) approved!!!

Muffin Approved

Do you have a favorite gif recipe?  Let me know below



Tip Tuesday: Sides that Won’t Heat Up the Kitchen (and a Dessert Idea, Too!)

Tip Tuesday

It’s extremely necessary to not heat up the kitchen in the summer.  Even assuming that your a.c. works perfectly (and that isn’t always the case), if you live in an area that tends to get the 9,000 degree heat with 500% humidity, heating up the kitchen defeats the purpose.

There are tons of recipes for the slow cooker, the grill, or that are not-to-be-cooked for main dishes (and even some desserts or sides), but a visit to my sister’s recently reminded me of other options that are cooling (and healthy to boot!).

Yes, I said healthy.  It’s not a topic often covered by this blog, but the summer is the time of year when I tend to reduce–a bit.  It’s too hot to eat for one thing.

For another, and the focus of this entry, there are so many yummy fresh fruits and vegetables available during this time.

While at my sister’s last week, for each meal eaten at home (and a particularly memorable snack time), she served a veggie tray and a fruit tray.

Let’s examine the complexity of the veggie tray.  At Christmas and Thanksgiving (with pickles and olives), we call such a thing relishes.  If you are attending a pinkie-extended cocktail party, you may speak in an upper-crust accent and call them cruditees.  If you purchase such a thing pre-made at the grocery store, you will see it called a vegetable tray.

In the summer, it should only be called a veggie tray, bringing to mind the idea of lazy summer days cooled by the crisp fresh veggies and dip (which could be sour cream-based, yogurt-based, or salad dressing).

Really, any raw vegetable is awesome.  Grape tomatoes, carrots, celery sticks, radishes, green onions, pepper strips (or mini bell peppers), broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber…the possibilities are endless.

I have been guilty (in the past) of purchasing veggie trays.  That’s okay (especially if they are marked down as reduced produce).  But there is something so satisfying about arranging them in a colorful melange of flavors and textures.

On Sunday, for the Father’s Day celebration, I created the one below.  I also made one to serve with the leftovers yesterday.  But Muffin started scarfing the tray before I could snap a pic.  Muffin loves the veggie trays a lot.  My mom even mentioned that, when he visited them on Saturday for lunch, he did a good job of decimating the veggie tray.

Note:  We’ve enjoyed the veggie tray for two days in a row.  I can definitely see this as becoming a regular side at our table (for supper or lunch…it would make a great addition to a ploughman’s lunch!).

They can also be as simple or elaborate as you wish.  The sky’s the limit!

And what, may you ask, is Muffin’s new favorite dessert?  One that would make the federal lunch guidelines happy, that’s for sure.

Muffin is very much fruit-obsessed.  I have seen him offered a choice of cake or fruit, and he will choose fruit almost every time.

While at my sister’s, he tried to decimate her fruit tray, gobbling handfuls of red grapes and wedges of watermelon interspersed with copious amounts of strawberries.

On Sunday, throughout dinner, he kept wheedling (there is no other word for it) to have some of the fruit tray that I made below.  I specifically kept it in the fridge so that he would eat some of the main part of his meal (other than the vegetable tray above).

Fruit trays can always be the most beautiful, decorative element on the table.  You can have the green of honeydew or kiwi, various berries in shades of red or blue (or purple), the many hues of grapes, the orange of cantaloupe, the red of watermelon, the oranges of various tropical fruits.  As you can see, I compiled chunks of honeydew (that I cut down some because I couldn’t find a whole on in the store, blueberries (Muffin ate the rest of the pint for breakfast), cherries, strawberries, cantaloupe, and watermelon (I had purchased a personal watermelon, sliced off the ends, and peeled the rind off the rest before cutting it in disks, and then fingers.).

There wasn’t much left of the tray (and the rest was gone the following morning after Muffin hit it).  The honeydew disappeared before we returned home with the tray.

The next day, I decided that would be the ideal dessert with the leftovers, so I replenished the tray.  I even bought strawberries and had leftover cherries that never made it on last night’s tray.  I purchased some organic blackberries that were 99 cents a 6 ounce package (that I didn’t realize were on sale).  I ended up buying two of them.  They were perfect.  Tight little berries.  If you were to paint a still life of blackberries, these would be your muse to recreate.

So, last night, for dessert with the leftovers (as well as a lovely chilled bedtime snack), this is what we feasted upon:

What are your favorite warm weather sides and desserts?

Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge: Twinkie Strawberry Shortcake

Please Don't Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge

This recipe, to the best of my memory, is my own creation.  Years ago, I came up with this shortcut method for strawberry shortcake.  Yes, I know, shortcake is supposed to be more biscuit-like and not sweet.  But I like my shortcake to be…cakey.  And using a Twinkie was a great way to make cakey, creamy strawberry shortcakes without heating up the kitchen (or cracking an egg).

Imagine my panic and dismay when the great downfall of Hostess occurred a while back.  I was steamed.  I still think the people to blame (and I’m not talking about the former business owners) should be held accountable for their actions.  I thought I would never be able to make my shortcut dessert again.  Or Minion cupcakes…which I still have not made but are taunting me all over the Pinteresting Blogosphere.

I was thrilled when I saw Twinkies back on the shelves.  Even the Great Value and Little Debbie varieties had been in short supply.  I actually didn’t make any at all last summer.

Then came Friday’s leftover dinner at my parents’ house.  My dad was so thrilled by all of the food that he asked, “So, what did you bring for dessert?”

Ummm…I had not considered yet making a no-bake dessert.  I thought fast, and the Twinkie Strawberry Shortcake was the first thing that came to mind.

So, today, I pulled out all the stops.  I had purchased real heavy whipping cream to whip to submission (and stiff peaks) in my Kitchen Aid.  I had a pound of strawberries to slice.  I had the box of Twinkies.  I was good to go.

And I got to macerate strawberries.  I love the word macerate.  I love the effect of the maceration.  Jewel red moist and sweet strawberries in their own sweet juice.  Even if the strawberries were hard little rocks to begin with.

I made each of us a huge concoction of it, garnished with a big strawberry.  And…just as with the Little Debbie cakes…the Twinkie made it taste all chemically.  😦  I manfully ate it because it was still better than no strawberry shortcake, but it was not as good as it was before my body and taste buds decided they didn’t like processed foods.  The whipped cream and strawberries were pretty awesome, though.  It should be noted that Muffin loved it although he decided he liked the Twinkie best.

Here’s what I did.

Twinkie Strawberry Shortcake

from Me!

1 pound strawberries, divided

2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Twinkies (2 per shortcake)

Reserve three strawberries (or one for each serving you are making) with stem end.  Slice remaining strawberries into four-to-five slices per berry.  Toss in a medium-sized bowl with sugar.  Set aside to macerate for a few hours.

Shortly before assembly (but can be done a half hour in advance), place whipping cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl to beat with a hand mixer).  Attach your whisk attachment.  Set your stand mixer to STIR until the powdered sugar is incorporated into the cream.  Kick the speed up to 4, then to 6, as the mixture becomes more foamy.  When it starts to have small bubbles and the mixture resembles cotton (or marshmallow creme), kick the speed up to high until you make stiff peaks.

Open and halve two Twinkies.  Make an X with the twinkies, leaving a square space in the middle on a plate.  Fill the square space with strawberries, and then spoon strawberries over each half of Twinkie.  Drizzle on extra sweetened strawberry juice over the cakes and the plate.  Using a small cookie scoop, scoop “scoopfuls” of whipped cream, first onto the square space filled with strawberries and then anywhere else your heart desires.  Place one reserved strawberry onto the mound of cream over the square space.

Enjoy wallowing in sweetened strawberries, heavenly puffs of whipped cream, and cake.

Muffin Approved

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What is your favorite easy-to-make, kitchen air conditioner friendly dessert?