Author Archives: TaMara

Happy Autumn!

Kremmling from Jim Yost.

Kremmling,CO from Jim Yost.

What’s on your menu today? I think I may move on from apples to pumpkin this week.

 

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Fall in Colorado

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My schedule has been such, I haven’t been able to get to the mountains for some color, but I’m hoping to get up there this next weekend. Until then, here are some great shots from others I wanted to share.

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Photo by James Bunten

Photo by James Bunten

 

Photo of Steamboat Springs by Larry Pierce

Photo of Steamboat Springs by Larry Pierce

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Bixby Feet

Bixby 9 18 14

Friday Dinner Music: Breathless, The Corrs

Friday Recipe Exchange: Apples, Bourbon and Caramel

Caramel Apple Crisp

We have a city apple orchard. I’ve cycled by it for years, didn’t give it much thought except to wonder what the city did with them every year. This year I found out. Seems the weather has created a bumper crop so the city put out a reminder that these apples were there for everyone, they were pesticide free and please, please, please come pick some because there were so many they were breaking branches.

Photo from City of Longmont

Photo from City of Longmont

We headed over and picked a few last weekend and I decided that apples would make the perfect topic for tonight’s recipe exchange. I’ve got some old favorites and some old favorites with a new twist, including tonight’s featured recipe, Caramel Apple Crisp, pictured at top.

Let’s start with one that is perfect around this time of year when mini chocolates abound, Baked Snicker Apples, recipe here.

mouth-watering is the only way to describe, Mrs. J’s Famous Apple Pie, click here.

I have bourbon, I have apples, seems I need to make some Bourbon Baked Apples, recipe here.

Totally not apple related, the weekly menu this week was Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, recipes and shopping list here.

What’s on your menu? Now that the weekend means autumn is official, what are some of your favorite fall recipes?

For tonight’s featured recipe, I wondered what would happen if I added caramels to my favorite apple crisp. It was amazing. Great flavor without being too sweet. I reduced the sugars to adjust for the caramels. I’ll do this one again:

apple-crisp-cast iron

Cast Iron Caramel Apple Crisp

  • 2 lbs apples – mix of sweet and tart (about 3 apples)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • dash of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste
  • 10 caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tbsps of cream

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup flour

10 inch cast iron skillet and small mixing bowl

Core and cut apples into small pieces (about 1/2 inch). Peeling is optional, but with this method the peels cook nice and soft, so it isn’t necessary.

Melt butter in skillet, add apples and sugar, stir until apples are well coated. Cover and cook on medium heat until apple mixture is soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. About 20-30 minutes.

While the apples are cooking, melt the caramels and cream over medium heat, stirring until smooth. If you spray the pan with cooking oil before melting caramels, cleanup is easier. Pour over apples just before adding crumble mixture.

Caramel apples

In mixing bowl, stir together butter, sugar, flour and oats, mix until crumbly. Crumble over the apple mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 400 degree oven, just until top is crispy golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes and serve warm.

What makes this so good is that because the apples are cooked on the stovetop, you can use a much higher heat in the oven and get a good, crisp top without drying the whole mixture out or under cooking the apples. Really, this is one of the best apple crisps I’ve made.

Alternately, if you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, you can transfer the cooked apple mixture to a glass baking dish, add topping and bake that way.

No Bixby Diary this week, I’ll make up for it next week. Until then….TaMara

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Bourbon Baked Apple Crisp

Final Baked Bourbon Apple

Wandering around the web today, someone posted a recipe for Bourbon Baked Apples. Hmmm, I have bourbon. I have apples. Guess I need to bake some Bourbon Apples, stuffed with oatmeal crumble.

Bourbon Baked Apple Crisp

  • 4 large favorite apple
  • 1/2  cup oats
  • 1/2  cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup softened  butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup bourbon (depending on taste – you can substitute more cider if you prefer)
  • vanilla ice cream

In a bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Add softened butter and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. You want it to be crumbly.

apples stuffed2

Cut the top off the apple, enough to use as a lid. Scoop out core and seeds, being careful not to pierce the bottom of the apple. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired  and then stuff with the oats mixture, packing it in and covering out to the edges of the apple. Place the top of the apple back on and press down.

Place apples in a large baking dish. Pour apple cider and bourbon in the bottom of the pan. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until skin is soft and wrinkled and flesh is soft. During the baking period, baste every 10 minutes with the cider/bourbon mix.

Serve immediately with ice cream.

 

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Dinner Menu: Mambo Italiano Edition

Spaghetti and Meatballs2

Going old school tonight.  I thought you may still have some zucchini and tomatoes that needed to be used up and this menu does both.  Growing up, spaghetti was a weekly occurrence.  I’m not sure where my mom learned to make it, because it is my dad’s half of the family that is Italian, but it was always a hit at our house.  Over the years we’ve all played with different variations, but this is pretty close to the original. Whether it was at a weekly family meal or the Christmas dinner at my Gram’s, this basic sauce ruled.  And the good thing is, it is simple to modify depending on your tastes.  If you want to spice things up, add 1/4 to 1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage and reduce the ground beef by as much.

Quick, easy and freezes well, I usually make double so I have some on hand for quick dinners.  Trust me, you will never find any jar sauce in my house.  Ever.  If you’d like to have meatballs instead, recipe is here.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce
  2. Zucchini Italiano
  3. Crusty Italian Bread
  4. Sherbet or even better, Gelato

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 3 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Italiano

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½  tsp oregano, crushed
  • ½  tsp basil, crushed
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

medium skillet

Clean and slice zucchini, heat oil in skillet, add zucchini, garlic and spices. Stir-fry over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon water and let steam until zucchini is tender.  Toss with parmesan and serve.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

Shopping List:

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 carrot
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • Crusty Italian Bread
  • Sherbet or  Gelato

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, rosemary, salt & pepper

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Originally published Oct 2010 copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook Spring Edition

The Truth Is Out

Uh-oh 1

This is Emma trying to escape before I can snap the photo of her and Bixby snuggled down together. That’s what I woke up to this morning. She was curled up next to his nose and he was resting his head on her bed. The truth is out, no going back now.

Paw print

Friday Dinner Music: Keane, Somewhere Only We Know

Friday Recipe Exchange: Chicken Buttermilk Biscuit Pie

Chicken Biscuit Pie_Snapseed1

They were predicting snow today, it did not show up, but it’s unseasonably cold. SNOW. I am not ready. But it does put me in the mood for cool weather recipes. Soups and tonight’s featured recipe, easy Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pot Pie. 

Life has been hectic, I’ve been busy with house hunting, work and of course the puppy, so I’ve kept meals simple. I haven’t linked to it in a while, but I have a bunch of tips for keeping meals quick, easy and full of flavor right here, which may come in handy now that school and activities are back in full swing.

For the dog lovers, Bixby updates are here and here. He’s now 33 34 lbs and so smart, he’s been a breeze to train.

On to the recipes. Soup is what I miss most in summer, so as soon as the temperatures dip, I break out the soup recipes. Here are three for you:

Cream of Chicken Soup (recipe here).

Spicy Black Bean Soup (recipe and full dinner menu here)

Chicken Tortilla Soup (recipe here)

What’s the weather like in corner of the planet? What’s on your plate for the weekend? Hit the comments and share some of your favorite fall recipes.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I brought together some of my favorite comfort foods into one dish. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can transfer the chicken mixture to a baking dish and top with biscuits.

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Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit Pot Pie

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups sliced carrots (frozen ok)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen ok)

Set a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat

In a large bowl, combine the chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil. Sear chicken in pan, stirring occasionally, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside in a separate bowl. Add butter to the pan and, when melted, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the stock, browned chicken, potatoes, and spices.

Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat so that the sauce just simmers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken and potatoes are tender…about 25-35 minutes.

While it simmers, prepare Buttermilk Biscuits, below.

Just before adding biscuits, fold peas into chicken mixture and then remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the biscuits on top of the chicken and gravy, with 6 biscuits around the edge of the pan and the remaining 4 biscuits in the center (if you have a left over biscuit or two, bake on a separate baking sheet). Be sure the biscuits do not touch, so they cook thoroughly. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and flaky…14 to 15 minutes. Allow the pot pie to cool briefly before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.

Buttermilk Biscuits:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 tbsp powdered buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter to brush on formed biscuits

Mix dry ingredients, make a center hole in the dry ingredients and add in shortening and milk.  Blend together, then knead 10-12 strokes on a floured surface, roll out to ½” thick, cut into 8-10 biscuits.

That’s it for this week. Have great weekend. – TaMara

 

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copyright 2014 What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring

 

 

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