Apple Fritters for A Perfect Saturday

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I found a recipe on the internet this week for apple fritters that promised to be easy.  Being a sucker for  perfect apple fritter I decided to give it a try but of course, being me I had to change up the recipe just a wee bit to make it my own.  So, here is my version of the ingredients:

1 heaping cup of All Purpose Flour

1/2 cup of sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

3 tablespoons melted better

1/3-1/2 cup of milk

3 medium tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces

1. Place a pot of oil on the stove to heat.  When a small drop of batter placed in the oil immediately floats to the top, the oil is hot enough to fry.

2. Core and peel the apples and dice into small, pea size pieces.  Place the diced apples into a bowl of water that has been very lightly salted.  (This will prevent oxidation.)

3.  Combine the melted butter, egg, extracts, and sugar.  Then add the dry ingredients, mix until the dry and wet ingredients are just incorporated.

4.  Drain the apples and then add the apples to the fritter batter.  Mix the apples into the batter gently, the more the batter is stirred the higher the chance of tough batter.

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5.  Place a spoonful of the batter into the high oil, taking care not to crowd the pan.  Be sure to roll the fritter over 30 seconds to a minute into cooking, so that both sides of the fritter can cook.

6.  Place on a cooling rack for any excess oil to drain and cool lightly. 

The apple fritters are wonderful hot and crisp from the frying pan without glaze or powdered sugar.  However, they are amazing with a simple glaze or sprinkled with powdered sugar. 

I will be making these again.  They are easy, delicious and much better than what comes from the best bakery. 

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The World’s Most Delicious Roast

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This pot roast is stupid simple to make and honestly the best pot roast you will ever make.  It comes complete with its own gravy which is delicious over mashed potatoes or drenching a hard crusty bread in a sandwich.

Orange Mushroom Pot Roast

1 beef roast (cut is personal preference)

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 soup can of beef broth

2-5 garlic cloves grated (to taste)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Orange zest and juice from one small orange

 

1.  Brown the pot roast on all sides and transfer to the crock pot on lowest setting.

2. Pour the can of soup over the roast and then fill the empty soup can with beef broth and pout over roast.

3. Grate enough garlic over the roast for personal preference, same with salt and pepper.

4.  just before serving, grate one orange over the roast and squeeze the orange over the roast. 

5.  Serve and Enjoy.

To be perfectly honest the addition of orange to the pot roast came about because of a mistake but the result was a roast that usually doesn’t have leftovers. 

Pumpkin Bread

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I wanted to bake this morning but nothing in my usual rotation was striking the right inspirational chord with me.  So I went looking on allrecipes.com for inspiration and the results are fantastic.  The inspiration recipe can be found here but I made serious changes to the recipe. 

Recipe

1 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

4 eggs

3 cups sugar

1 cup applesauce

1/4 cup to a cup of Apple juice

4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Ginger

1 teaspoon Cloves

 

1.  Preheat over to 350 degrees and prepare two loaf pans.

2.  Combine eggs, applesauce, sugar, and pumpkin until smooth.

3.  Next add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet.  Combine until batter is well combined and the reasonably tight.  Depending on your humidity and how loose you like your quick bread batter, add apple juice as required.

4.  Evenly divide the batter into the two pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

Tips

 

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As usual, spices measurements are approximates.  Spice the bread based on what flavors your family prefers.  We prefer more ginger and cinnamon, but I know others prefer more cloves paired with pumpkins.  Allspice and nutmeg would also be wonderful additions, I just didn’t have any in the spice pantry.

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This is the consistency of my batter.  It fell from the paddle slowly and in large sections, rather than dripping quickly in small portions repeatedly.  I let the batter rest for a couple of minutes before dividing the batter.

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I poured half the batter into a measuring cup lined with cling film and placed it in the refrigerator to set-up before transferring it to a container to place in the freezer.  With just the two of us, we won’t eat two loaves prior to one of them going to waste.

The remaining batter I added a couple of handfuls of dried cranraisins and mixed them in well.  I didn’t pre-flour the additions but you can to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the mixture.  The mixture is incredibly receptive to additions.  Future additions will be butterscotch chips, apples, and nuts.  I am thinking grated carrots or grated zucchini will also make this bread even healthier, although adding either of those definitely means being sure to reduce the liquid in the batter because of the moistness of carrots and zucchini. 

The bread was a hit with my husband and our parrot, Pickles, couldn’t get enough of it.  I think the bread is dense enough to make wonderful French toast over the holidays, and versatile enough to make a savory stuffing.  I know it will be amazing toasted with a smear of cream cheese.  The recipe is actually pretty healthy, the applesauce is a perfect replacement for the vegetable oil called for in the inspiration recipe.  Personally, I always replace oil with applesauce whenever possible.

Real Bread Campaign

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As you know, I routinely bake bread.  We as a family prefer the texture, taste, and quality of homemade bread to that over processed crap that you grab from the supermarket shelf.  Bread making isn’t difficult, in fact, it is nowhere near as difficult as professional chefs try and make it out to be.  Honestly, I throw the ingredients in the mixer, knead the dough, let it rise and bake it.  Not complicated, not time consuming and the end result is the wonderful smell of homemade bread baking and the incredible taste and texture of the bread as the ultimate reward.

Over in Britain there is an amazing campaign called Real Bread.  Focus of the campaign is to provide better quality bread products to residents and to teach residents how simple and easy it is to make bread themselves.  The campaign is striving for lofty goals of preservative free bread and bread that has ingredients that are pronounceable and everyone knows what they are.  Lucky UK residents can join the campaign for a mere £10 a year and get a large number of membership benefits.  The movement is open to non-UK residents but the quality of membership is much diminished because lack of proximity to events, classes, and sources.

We here in America need to start a grass roots movement like this and take back what good bread means.  Nothing quite beats a loaf of bread fresh from the oven.

Here is my husband’s favorite bread recipe*:
Ingredients:

4 cups of bread flour

2 eggs

Pinch of Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 teaspoon of sugar

One stick of unsalted butter, small cubes

Water or milk

Preparation:

Toss the ingredients in the mixer and kneed with the dough hook attachment.  Add enough liquid until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Separate into two loaf pans, cover and let rise.  Punch the dough down a couple of times just to let the air bubbles pop, and then cover and rise again.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.  

Tips for Success

Milk will make a more tender loaf, but only if you use milk with a 2% or higher fat content.  The amount of liquid you need will vary depending on where you live, more humid climates will require less liquid than dry climates.  Bread prefers to rise in a warm environment, any house temperature above 75 should be sufficient.  Best tip, don’t worry about having a perfect looking loaf or trying to become a world class bread baker overnight.  Experiment, try what works for your tastes and your family’s preferences.  Add ingredients that sound like they’d taste good.

Experimentation leads to failure sometime and it also leads to amazing successes!  So join the growing movement of bread bakers and bake a loaf today.

*Not pictured above, the above loaf was Steakhouse Bread.

Sunday Goodies

It was a rainy, gray, thunderous morning here and we needed a good dose of morning sunshine to kick start the day. So I threw together an impromptu batch of what are now known as Sunrise Muffins. They were immensely good and we finished the muffins before I could take pictures. However, there was enough excess batter to throw in a small loaf pan to make one muffin loaf.

Hiding inside are fresh strawberries and nectarines which were marinated overnight in sugar and Kraken Spiced Rum. The fruit reminds me of an Arizona sunrise in July, brilliant reds peeking through oranges hues as the sun climbs over the horizon.

The muffins were moist and tender. The fruit was not overly sweet over so drunk on rum that all you could taste was the rum. Instead, the muffins, and by extension the loaf, were slightly sweet, nicely spiced, and light.

The perfect start to a Sunday was followed up with the perfect late lunch condiment, salsa! I love salsa, no seriously I love salsa that is fresh, homemade, and so spicy my mouth is on fire. Well, I succeeded in my last batch which included two small and extremely spicy peppers from our garden.


I made the salsa a week ago and put it in the refrigerator to marry the flavors. Any great salsa requires time to blend and become one and boy howdy, was the salsa blended perfectly. To be honest salsa is simple to make and healthy, and tastes nothing like the jars of salsa sold on supermarket shelves everywhere. Best part of homemade salsa is you control the heat and the ingredients. The recipe for mine is simple:

Roasted peppers – peeled and deveined

Onions

Tomatoes

Cilantro

Garlic

Lime zest

Lime juice

 

Dice the roasted peppers, onions, and tomatoes into small bite size pieces. Finely dice the garlic and cilantro then add it to the diced ingredients. Zest one lime into the mixture and lime juice to taste. Salt and pepper to taste (I never do).

 

Can be eaten immediately but for best results, refrigerate for at least a week.

 


Now you are set for the perfect accompaniment to almost any meal. Enjoy!


 

Drunk berries, breakfast and margaritas

A week ago I promised to post about the delicious concoction that is drunk berries but, life has a way of intervening in our best laid plans. Drunk berries are nothing complicated or mysterious, fresh berries, sugar, and bourbon. Clean the berries like normal, sugar to taste, and a healthy splash of bourbon. Place in the refrigerator for several hours to allow the sugar and bourbon to work their magic on the berries. The end result are berries that are slightly sweet, fresh tasting, and will keep for much longer without turning into moldy mush.

When I was just a wee thing, my favorite food in the world was pancakes. I would request them every morning for breakfast and then Mum and I would walk to Knott’s Berry Farm where I would feed the chickens. This was a daily ritual we both loved. I still love pancakes although I no longer eat them on a regular basis. I will admit that I am a pancake snob, I really only eat pancakes made by myself or Mum to this day.

When I made pancakes for breakfast last Sunday, I warmed the drunk berries and poured them over the fluffy stacks of pancakes. The drunk berries, the real maple syrup, and peppery bacon made for the perfect accompaniment to steaming, dark cups of coffee. Hubby and I started Sunday off on the right foot thanks for the drunk berries and pancakes.

The perfect Sunday breakfast was capped off with grapefruit margaritas. Nothing like fresh squeezed grapefruits and tequila to put the perfect drink together on a lovely summer evening.

Slutty Brownies

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So, surfing out of boredom a couple of weeks ago I found this blog posting for a recipe for a concoction known as slutty brownies.  The name is appropriate given the simple but decadent list of ingredients: chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreo cookies, and brownie batter.  It had been a tough couple of days here and so I decided to be adventurous and try the recipe.

I picked up all the ingredients while we were out shopping yesterday afternoon and promptly made the brownies when my husband opened the first bottle of chocolate wine we had ever tried.  (Yeah I know, the wine sounds AWFUL but it was surprisingly great.  Closer to Bailey’s than wine, but with less of an after bite if you don’t like the taste of whiskey.)  Chocolate wine definitely begs for chocolate dessert to be enjoyed at the same time, thus the brownies went in the oven immediately after dinner.

My husbands reviews “Waste of an excellent brownie mix” and with those simple words he adequately summed up the brownies.  Don’t get me wrong, they are RICH but there is simply too much going on to be enjoyed.   Fresh & Easy makes an excellent brownie mix, Double Fudge Brownies to be precise, and honestly, it is just as good as my brownies from scratch and they come together much faster. 

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I won’t be making Slutty Brownies again.  They were too rich and no individual component stood out on it’s own.  Rather they were a mix of great flavors we love without the taste of the great flavors.  Chocolate chip cookies should not have to compete with Oreos and brownies for attention.

Update: These brownies are MUCH MUCH better the next day.  Neither of us could believe the difference in taste and enjoyment was so dramatically improved just by letting them sit over night.